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:
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:
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.
A process is a set of steps you need to follow to complete a task.
That’s what a process is, but why do we need them?
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.
For a process to be effective, and “make life better for all concerned,” it needs to be:
So, how do you create a process that ticks all those boxes?
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
Creating solid, repeatable social processes for you and your team is one thing. Making sure they’re followed is another…
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?
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.
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.
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 …
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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