How would your business cope if one of your team unexpectedly left? Is what they do and how they do it walking out the door with them? If a technical disaster occurs, such as a computer system crash, do you know for a fact that your data recovery procedure works? And is your business prepared for winning that big contract, that is, will your systems (or lack of) cope with a sudden upturn of workload? Will your client suffer from your “delivery gap”?
In my previous articles we looked at the first two steps in a simple five step process to achieve greater efficiency, better productivity and communication within your team, and how to get back some of that lost revenue. Here we will look at step three: building accountability First, let’s look at the structure of effective systems. It is what we call “the 4 P’s” – policy, process, procedure and props.
Through effective communication about systems, your team will truly be involved and develop a sense of ownership – the foundation for accountability.
Policy – Your organisational business rules – how you want your business to run. A policy generally begins with, “we always….” For example, “we always reply to an enquiry within 24 hours of first contact.”
Process – This is what we do. The steps we take to ensure that we follow our organisational policies.
Procedure – This is how we perform the process (how we do each step). It is the detail behind the process.
Prop – These are “things” we use to assist us to perform the procedure and ultimately the policy, for example phone script, checklist, template, signs, the yellow line on the factory floor.
Most operational manuals do not clearly differentiate these four components of systems, making it difficult to access just the information you are looking for.
There are two other crucial components, without which the 4 P’s would have little benefit: management and communication. Without a way to manage through your systems, they could easily become outdated and useless. We need to manage the business through the system, refining it and improving it where necessary – no exceptions, no “just this once” mentality. Make the systems better, and that’s what your team will grow to rely on. By involving them in this process, their personal sense of accountability will grow.
Through effective communication about systems, your team will truly be involved and develop a sense of ownership – the foundation for accountability. Through taking ownership of the systems, your team will naturally feel accountable. Your business systems will be owned by everyone in your business – they won’t be sitting up there on the trophy shelf at the back of your office.
So, how do we put this into practice? We involve your whole team, bringing together the people who are actually responsible for doing the work, the people who are consulted or who contribute in order to complete the work, and the people who need to be informed about the work (the RACI model).
From each of these perspectives we identify risks – things that could go wrong or do go wrong – and benefits that could be achieved.
With these key people agreeing on the, “one best way of doing it,” you’ll see the beginnings of real ownership and accountability across the business.