Before we move on to look at how to generate and document systems in your company, and examples of successful systems, let’s take a post and talk about yet one more of the benefits you reap when you have a documented set of systems in place – The ease of training new staff.
Without formal systems, training new staff takes on at least three challenges that don’t need to be there.
- Increasing expectations of current staff (without corresponding increase in pay)
- Creates uncertainty in new hires and existing staff
- Impedes flow of new ideas
1. Increasing expectations of current staff (without corresponding increase in pay)
Small companies generally don’t have training departments or big HR budgets to make sure that every new employee gets optimal training & orientation. Instead, when possible they plug new employees in with existing employees, and hope that the talents of the new hire and the knowledge of the existing employee will merge together and lead to productivity relatively quickly.
Without systems, you’re dramatically increasing the expectations on your current staff, and likely not increasing their compensation. After all, most businesses don’t include “Head of training and development” in the job titles of their staff, but that’s exactly what they become if you have them handle the orientation and training of new staff members.
Having more systems that give guidelines on expected performance, key deliverables, and best practices make it much easier to integrate new employees.
2. Creates uncertainty in new hires and existing staff
With no definite instructions or policies on how to do things, people are left to figure out the best response to any situation using their best judgment. Now, that’s not to say that their best judgment is always wrong. To the contrary, the results are often wonderful. After all, there are some tremendously talented people out there.
The problem is that the results are also unpredictable, and you have no way of figuring out what works best.
For example, let’s suppose you ask a staff member to take care of follow-up calls to new clients. An implicit system here, with vague instructions like “Call them up and see if they have any questions, and try to get them to commit to a follow-up meeting ” might result in 10 different interpretations over 10 calls.
This would be fine, except for the simple fact that very minor changes in language and wording can have very different results, even in short phone calls. What you want for your business is to give everybody access to the information that’s most likely to let them succeed – Not forcing them have to re-invent the wheel every time.
By having solid and explicit systems, instructions and policies in place, you also let your staff free up their attention and focus, so that they can find more effective ways to help your business run as smoothly as possible.
3. Impedes flow of new ideas
The third problem a lack of formal systems can create is that it makes it much harder for great ideas to spread. Sticking with the ‘calling system’, if one of your staff has 80% of the people who call in for information book and show up for an appointment, and another has only 50%, then there’s certainly something different between the 2 approaches. In a corporate culture that’s committed to documenting and systemizing excellent performance, the spread of tactics and good ideas is much faster than without, and this will improve the performance of your entire business.