As your business grows, so do the complexities. When you start to experience chaos, it’s a sure sign that you need to document how your business operates to remain efficient and sustain growth. However, the thought of documenting your processes can be overwhelming for everyone involved.
Every business will need to have systems in place to grow. The sooner you can get your systems documented, the sooner you can benefit from everything listed below.
By following the steps offered in this article, you’ll unite and empower your team and simplify the process of documenting their work.
Documenting Your Processes: How To Engage Your Team
Let’s remind ourselves about the benefits of documenting business processes:
- If a process isn’t documented, it is only a process in someone’s head
- Documented processes allow other team members to step in and complete work they wouldn’t normally do, reducing the risk of work stopping because a critical team member is not there
- Ensure consistency and standards from person to person completing the same tasks
- You can more easily improve a process or identify an issue if it is documented
- Processes are written to achieve an outcome; when everyone follows the process, the result is predictable
- Employees can easily find the information they need from documented processes rather than wasting other people’s time asking questions
- Documented processes allow your team to get their jobs done autonomously without being micromanaged
- Documented processes followed by all help to avoid costly mistakes and customer complaints
When implementing any change or new initiative, everyone must adopt it. Some may relish the opportunity to document their processes, while others will look at you with fear and trepidation. It’s not uncommon to have some resistance. To get everyone on the same page, open and honest communication and understanding of the benefits and impacts of process documentation are essential.
Some common fears your may encounter from your team:
- If I document everything that I do, won’t I be dispensable?
- I have enough to do already; how will I have time to document all this?
- If they see what I do, they might think I don’t do enough
- I have no idea how to get started or how to document the right way
Your ability to enlist your team as contributors to writing up their processes or operating procedures is key to your success.
Before you even discuss process documentation, you want to ensure that you have already discussed why the business needs to be systemised and precisely what it means to them. And, before you approach your wider team, ensure you have the backing of your leadership team. If your team have been struggling with process issues, they will most likely be relieved that you are making improvements.
Documenting Your Processes: How To Engage Your Team
Follow these 12 tips to smooth the adoption of your initiative:
- Have a clear purpose as to why systemising the business matters to the business and them and provide examples of how their life will be better after the company is organised and systemised
- Have a plan that clearly explains key milestones to getting the business systemised, including a timeline and the areas of focus
- Define their role in the initiative and how they will participate
- Let them know how you intend to free up time for them to focus on documenting their processes
- Allow time to listen to their questions or concerns and provide clear direction and assurance
- Identify certain team players based on their attitude and skills who will play a pivotal part and can motivate and assist others
- Set up a communication channel for the project and update frequently or provide updates in weekly team meetings
- Set up a fun challenge like a scoreboard for each team or department to encourage them to write content and document processes together
- Provide support and training on writing processes and procedures, so your documentation stays consistent and on brand
- Have a process for managing processes. For example, include who can edit a process, who will maintain it, and how users will flag issues in their processes.
- Discuss the importance of transitioning to a culture of accountability and other changes that will need to happen to make systemising the business a success
- Lead by example; it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch; everyone, including you, must be 100% committed to systemising the business and leading the company through the process to be ready for growth.
How To Get Your Team Started With Capturing Their Processes
Below is an outline of the steps to get your team primed for successful process documentation. Note that this is not a comprehensive process for documenting processes; to learn more, check out our detailed process for capturing processes article for everything you need to know.
- Have your team write down all their tasks. For example, use paper, start a Google Doc or a spreadsheet and make three columns; at the top, write Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and AdHoc. Or you can also download a simple list here.
Tip: another way to approach this is for your team to track their time using an app or manually to track their activities in 15-minute increments.
It’s best not to use job descriptions as they may not be up to date and won’t reflect the actual tasks the team member does.
2. Review the tasks on your task list, edit the list as required and agree on the correct name of the process and who will be responsible for updating the process – see the note below regarding the process owner.
Tip: This is an excellent time to take stock of the team member’s roles and responsibilities and re-balance the team if necessary.
A note about process owners – you may have more than one person who carries out the same process. In this case, the process owner would be the person who carries out the task most often, and they would be responsible for updating the process. In a situation such as a job share role, typically, the department lead is the process owner.
3. Turn the list into a plan of action. Either write out your plan in a document or use a Project Management tool to list the processes for each role or department and place them in priority order. Assign the responsibility to the appropriate team member for completing the process documentation. Have the team update the plan as they progress.
4. Based on the scope of work in your plan, allocate time in your team’s calendar to work on their processes. This may involve temporarily rearranging some of their workloads or blocking off time for the entire department to work in sprints. If time is an issue for your team, consider bringing in systems and process documentation experts to help.
5. Decide where you will store your documents, policies and procedures. I.e. in your document management system, a company intranet or a process management application such as Trainual.
6. Each team member will capture their processes per the documentation project plan using documents, images or video. It helps to work together in pairs; one person can demonstrate the process, and the other person can do the capturing and ask questions if the steps in the process aren’t clear.
7. You and your leadership team will review and approve the process documentation so that it is ready to be published in your training manual/playbook.
8. Decide how often your company processes will be updated and by whom, communicate and implement this process.
9. Announce to all employees where to find the company process documentation and continue improving and updating the information to stay relevant.
Don’t start with documenting your most complex processes. Finding a quick win is the best way to establish value for your team right away.
Review your team’s list of tasks/processes and prioritise based on the potential impact and complexity of the task. For example, start with a process that needs fixing and, at the same time, is not overly complex that could take a long time to compile the elements of the process.
Use this opportunity to look at each process and determine where there are opportunities to make the process more efficient.
Build the task of creating and updating process documentation into each team member’s job description; think of it as maintaining their own operations manual.
A business’s processes evolve as the company’s needs change; creating, improving, and documenting them isn’t a one-time project. Although the documentation process can take time, your business will gain more value than you invested.
Other articles to reference:
5 Reasons Why Video Training is a Great Way to Train Your Team
5 Types of Video to Improve and Strengthen Employee Training
12 Ways to Make Your Process Documentation Engaging
What is a Business Playbook and Why You Need One To Scale Your Operations
The Quick and Easy Way to Capture Your Business Processes
The Ultimate Process for Capturing Processes and Procedures
Look for signs that it’s time to systemise: mistakes happen, productivity drops, training takes too long, and you’re tired of repeating yourself. But there is a problem, the thought of systemising your business makes you anxious as you don’t know how to approach your team for help. The steps above will help you get your team involved in creating process documentation, ensuring efficiency and consistency across the business, including ready-to-use training for new employees.
Working with businesses of all sizes and industries, I’ve helped teams to see the benefits of capturing processes and empowering them in their role using these powerful techniques.
Your Next Steps
Download The Task List form. Use this simple form to get started; provide a copy to each team member to list the tasks they are responsible for and prioritise the tasks to document first.
Are you ready to motivate your team to start documenting their work processes? At Organising Works, we help businesses every day to get the knowledge from their heads into a documented process that you can use repeatedly. The first time you attempt to document your processes can be overwhelming; if you would like some help, we can work with your team to get the job done faster and easier. Get in touch today.