By September 11, 2011 0 Comments Read More →

Procedures Are Necessary, Just Don’t Follow Them

Procedures Are Necessary, Just Don’t Follow Them

As Manager, we all know that procedures are necessary for work activity and business in general, but the reality is that just because you have a procedure, doesn't mean it should always be done exactly the same way. Let your staff think for themselves more often.

Of course procedures are valuable and provide a base for training staff, ensuring consistency in service delivery or activities, set the ground rules for tasks, decisions, processes and deliverables and even to ensure you have a means to audit activities.

If the the tasks you are documenting processes for are very simplistic and repetitive, detailed procedures can be valuable. The problem is, many of the things we do today are not that simple and we hire smart, knowledgeable staff to do them for us. The tasks are typically heuristic in nature, which means there is a lot of thinking and decision making to be done.

Trying to capture every possibility in a procedure simply isn’t possible, and even if you do your best, there will be situations where the process simply doesn’t fit or will be the wrong thing to do.

Instead of slavishly following the procedures, your staff should have the latitude to deviate from them when warranted. The key is to document not only the basic processes (without too much constrictive detail), but also the reasons and intent of the process and the desired outcomes. If necessary, either for legal, legislative or other reasons, clearly identify things that are a compliance requirement so your staff knows where they have latitude and where they don’t.

Also, deviation from the processes should be documented and justified whenever they are major. That way you and they can defend the decision on the basis of a rational reason and you can look at the reasons and maybe even make a change, improvement or addition to your process to capture your staff’s reasons or even explain why they shouldn’t have deviated from the process and why. When they have a rational, thoughtful reason, even if you don’t agree with what they did, you shouldn’t punish them – use it as a learning opportunity.

Giving your staff some latitude to do the job in the most efficient way  possible is a great way to manage for results. When you see what they are doing differently, you can change the procedures and translate those improvements to other staff doing the same work. By enabling your staff to find better solutions and by sharing them with your team, you will demonstrate your leadership, not just your management skills.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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