Are you using a process that works? Or are you thinking you might need one? Here’s a look at why you need a process, the benefits, and how to create a process everyone on your team will love.
Do you have a morning routine? A set of actions you perform before you start your day?
Maybe it goes a little like this:
- Get up.
- Check social media.
- Brush your teeth.
- Have a shower.
- Make a coffee.
- Eat breakfast.
- Check social media again.
- Jump in the car.
- Drive to work.
A whopping 82% of the population has a morning routine.
Having a set of tasks that we perform every day, without thinking, frees up our minds to focus on the important stuff. Like what we need to achieve, where we need to prioritize our time, and how to get the most out of the day.
The same applies to the recurring tasks you perform at work, too.
If you follow a process every time you schedule a tweet or publish a post on Facebook you will:
- Get the task done quicker
- Always include the right details
- Adhere to legal standards without needing to check
- Make sure it’s on-brand and aligned with organizational goals
- Have more space and time to focus on the more important aspects of your job
This article will delve deeper into the importance of processes and divulge key tips and tricks on how to create processes that people love to follow.
First, let’s look at what a process is—so we’re all clear.
What is a process?
A process is a set of steps you need to follow to complete a task.
For example, you might follow a set of steps when you complete influencer outreach. Or you might stick to a process when you create and build out your social media calendar.
That’s what a process is, but why do we need them?
Why do you need processes?
Processes ensure that recurring tasks get done accurately, efficiently, and to a high standard—every time you complete them.
Think about it. When you first started your job, how long did it take you to complete the smallest of tasks?
Like, for example, when you had to request an image for one of your posts for the first time. Did you know who to send the image request to, when to send it, and how to make the request?
Unless you had an exceptional onboarding process to follow, chances are you didn’t. You had to find the answers out for yourself. That probably took up a lot of time, undoubtedly resulted in a couple of mistakes, and maybe even resulted in sub-par images.
These days, because you’ve completed the process hundreds of times it takes you minutes not hours, you rarely make a mistake, and the images are always on point. Right?
Plus, if you’re managing a team, creating processes for them to stick to means less work for them and less work for you.
If your social media team has a defined set of steps to follow when completing their day-to-day tasks, they’ll know exactly what to do and when to do it. They’ll do it right every time, and they’ll do it much quicker.
Which means you’ll have fewer questions, less hassle, and more time to concentrate on bigger and better things.
Now we know what processes are and why we need them, let’s look at what makes a process effective and how to build a process that works.
What makes processes effective & how to build processes that work
For a process to be effective, and “make life better for all concerned,” it needs to be:
The right people need to be able to access the right processes, at the right time, and on the right device.
The whole point of creating a process is to increase the efficiency of that particular task. So when you’re creating a process, make sure it isn’t inefficient in itself.
Processes need to relate to the task at hand and also to wider organizational goals. If a process doesn’t push the organization in the right direction, it’s ineffective.
There’s no benefit in creating a process for a one-off task. Processes standardize how particular tasks are completed. That’s how they create efficiencies.
So, how do you create a process that ticks all those boxes?
How to Make a Process Accessible
Processes are about as effective as a chocolate teapot if they’re not documented and stored in an easy-to-access, central place.
Let’s say the team member responsible for sending out the daily tweets suddenly falls sick and is uncontactable.
They usually follow their own process to make sure the right message gets tweeted at the right time. But this process isn’t written down anywhere and it hasn’t been stored somewhere central.
So … you can’t follow it.
You’re then stuck in a sticky situation: What do you send? When should you send it? And what should you say?
To avoid this type of hot, sweaty, panicky scenario, document each step involved in the completion of an activity and store the documented process in a central location that can be accessed easily when required.
Tip: I work for Process Street and we use workflow software to document and store all our processes within the cloud, so they can be accessed at any time, on any device, in any location. If someone’s off sick or away on holiday, we can easily step in, pick up the process, and make sure nothing gets forgotten about or missed.
How to Make a Process Efficient
As I established earlier, the more you do something, the quicker you get at it … which is why we create processes.
But if you create a process that contains unnecessary steps, overly complicated tasks, infuriating bottlenecks, multiple hand-overs, and other wasteful characteristics, then it’s going to create inefficiencies as opposed to efficiencies.
All you need to do is:
- Analyze your process
- Identify the inefficient parts
- Find ways to get around them.
- Remove unnecessary steps, take out bottlenecks, and simplify tasks where possible.
For example, let’s say you need the CEO’s approval before you start a new social media campaign.
You like to present your campaign face to face so you can handle any pushback and take on board feedback. But scheduling time with them is difficult, nigh-on impossible.
This part of the process is a huge bottleneck and is therefore incredibly inefficient.
Instead of letting this bottleneck slow your progress down, build an approval process for your team to follow.
Tip: We use Approval tasks to eradicate bottlenecks at Process Street. When an Approval task is added to a process, key items and information are automatically sent to the approver to be approved or rejected. It speeds everything up and keeps the process moving forwards.
How to Make Processes Relevant
The processes you create are always going to relate to the task you’re wanting to complete. What would be the point otherwise?!
To make sure your processes are effective, they also need to be aligned with your organizational goals.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a new social campaign process for your team to follow, to improve retention rates.
If the organization’s overarching objective is to increase acquisition, this process, although useful, won’t push the company in the direction it wants to go in.
It will, therefore, be ineffective.
To make sure your organization’s objectives are at the forefront of all the processes you create and follow, ask yourself questions like:
- How does this process fit with the wider organizational goals and general direction?
- How is this process helping the organization grow and develop?
Tip: We keep our organizational goals in mind when creating and following our processes by including them as a step within the process. Documenting the company goals as part of the process means it becomes easier to center all activity around it.
How to Make Processes Reusable
Effective processes standardize the way we work. They should include steps that dictate the best way to complete a task.
The only way to achieve this is to make sure your processes are reusable. Anyone within your company should be able to pick up your process and follow it, time and time again.
For example, if you built a process for creating and uploading posts to Facebook, you could sit back and relax, knowing that your team’s approach, tone of voice, and messaging are consistent and in-line with brand objectives.
Every time they post.
In contrast, creating a process for setting up a companywide account would be pointless. Would you run this process frequently? Would you need to run it more than once? Would others in your team need to run the process?
No, no, and no.
Tip: Before we start building processes to be used internally and externally, we tend to ask ourselves questions like:
- Who would use this process?
- When would they run it?
- How often would they run it?
- What would they use the process for?
- What benefit would they get from this process?
Creating solid, repeatable social processes for you and your team is one thing. Making sure they’re followed is another…
How to Ensure People Follow Your Processes
You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
To improve accuracy, efficiency, and quality within your team, you’ve taken the time to create processes that are accessible, efficient, relevant, and reusable.
But no one is following them.
Why is no one following them? And, more importantly, what can you do to make sure they do follow them?
Process problem #1: They don’t describe the best way of doing things
48% of employees don’t follow processes because they don’t describe the best way of carrying out activities.
A common mistake people make when creating processes is assuming that they, and they alone, know the best way to complete a task.
Maybe they’ve done the task before. Maybe they’ve researched how to do the task. Or maybe they’ve seen other’s perform it in a way that’s worked well.
Regardless of why they think they know best until they get input from the people that are performing the task right now (the people on the frontline), they’ll struggle to get buy-in and the process will get ignored.
So, gather your team together and discuss each step in the process.
Brainstorm ideas, ask for their thoughts, opinions, and ideas.
Find out what works, establish what doesn’t, and figure out the best way to complete the task together.
Don’t rush the process. Take time to work through all the details.
Including the whole team in the process of creating a process will allow you to weed out unnecessary steps, add in productive ones, and watch your team engage with and follow your processes.
Process problem #2: They’re not up to date
45% of employees don’t follow processes because they’re out of date.
If you had a dusty, old process that hadn’t been changed in years and contained out-of-date information, references to archaic systems, and non-existent members of staff, would you follow it? (It would be a waste of time, wouldn’t it?)
Think of it another way.
To keep your computer performing at its best, it needs updating. To keep old content performing at its best, it needs updating.
And to keep your website performing at its best, it needs updating.
The same goes for processes.
To keep your processes performing at their best, and to make sure your team finds them useful, they need regular updates.
Though there are no hard and fast rules around how often you should review and update your processes, look out for these few key warning signs.
You may need to review and update your process if …
- You’re consistently seeing poor performance or delays
- Your team fails to carry out a process properly
- People using the process express concerns
- The organization goes through a change (e.g., if an employee leaves or starts, the IT infrastructure gets upgraded, or there’s a department shuffle)
Process Problem #3: They’re too difficult to follow
A total of 48% of employees don’t follow processes because it’s too hard to find the information they need.
How many times have you bought a piece of flat-pack furniture and given up half-way through because the instructions are too difficult to understand?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll tend to throw the instructions in the trash bin and wing the rest.
That’s exactly how your team will react if the steps you include in your process are overly complicated, convoluted, and confusing.
If your process isn’t easy to follow, people won’t follow it. It’s as simple as that.
Make sure your instructions are clear, your steps are assertive, and that you include plenty of context.
Sometimes, a step within a process is naturally complicated. But, if you break that step down into smaller, more manageable chunks, they’ll be easier to swallow.
One way to make sure your process is simple and straightforward is to test it out on a newcomer or an outsider—someone who isn’t on your team.
If they struggle with a step you know you need to simplify it or provide more information, instruction, or context. If they complete the process with no problems – you know your team will fly through it.
We’ve covered what processes are, why you need them, and how to make them effective. But all that is irrelevant if no one is following them.
If you keep your processes up-to-date, make them super simple to stick to, and always include your team, you’ll create processes that people love to follow.
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