What Happens if it Breaks?

What Happens if it Breaks?

I was recently working with a client who had a manual process that their team would go through to produce regular reports in Excel.

It wasn’t a high level or challenging process, it was basically do this step, then do that step and so forth until they reached the end and the resultant “report” was created.

Whilst this worked a bulk of the time, problems arose when something wasn’t quite right, and they needed to troubleshoot the formulas or they recognised that results were not what they should be.

All they had been shown was a process.  They never understood the what or why, rather than were just following the metaphorical “bouncing ball”. 

These types of scenarios are common in business.  There are usually time pressures to produce reports and a process provides framework and consistency, and most of the time, it works fine.

The challenge however is when it doesn’t!

When teams don’t understand the what and why of the processes they are completing, when something “breaks,” or doesn’t seem quite right, the default position is often to push it back to their manager or team leader. 

Whilst this may solve the immediate problem, referring to a manager too often can create a habit and unintentionally discourage staff from problem solving.

So what can you do?

Whilst getting the initial process consistent matters, it is important to risk manage.   When your team have settled into a process, take the time to sit down and explain why they are doing this and share what you want them to do if things go wrong. It may be as simple as telling them it is ok to bring the issue to you, but then challenge them to bring one or two possible solutions.

Doing this AFTER the process is implemented but before something “breaks” minimises the need for managers to have to put out the proverbial “fire” when something breaks.   When your team know what is going on and your expectations of what they should do, they will feel empowered to make changes which ends up saving you time, stress and frustration.  

Already done this? When was the last time you checked in with your team to remind them of your expectations?  Never done this?  Perhaps it’s time you should!

Donna Hanson is a professional productivity speaker who works with organisations and their teams to fast track their everyday technology to get them back to selling, servicing or supporting customers.  For more information on how Donna can help, visit www.donnahanson.com or follow Donna on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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