As business development experts we are systems junkies! There is nothing we love more than working with our clients to design a new system or getting to the bottom of why an existing system doesn't work and then helping to redesign it. Ideally, businesses are full of documented work systems and people are using those systems to achieve predictable consistent results. This might lead one to think that when all systems are in place the business is set, right? That would be true only if businesses are stagnate. But as you know businesses are not stagnate... they are dynamic... they are constantly changing. To ensure your business systems change along with the needs of your business, you need a way to PROVE they work, and to IMPROVE them if needed. "Use, Prove, or Improve" is a mantra that should be in the hearts and minds of everyone in your business. The process of using systems, proving they work, or suggesting ways to improve them when they don't work is a simple, effective, real-time way to ensure your business systems are in alignment with the ongoing needs of your business. And everyone in your business can participate.
Systems are created to be used. They are carefully designed to be used and through use, to get specific results. To ensure consistent results, systems should be used exactly as they were designed. If employees use systems any way they want (or not at all) then the business is not run by systems, but by individual employees. In this scenario the business has no idea what to evaluate: the system, the employee, or a system that is not even known. However, if employees are engaged in systems as intended, the business can be confident in evaluating the success of the system.
If you discover an employee is not using a system, take the time to discover why! There are many reasons employees don't use a system, here are a few common ones:
* They don't understand it
* They aren't aware of it
* They have found a better way of getting the result
* They feel it slows them down
* They feel it's cumbersome
* It isn't easy to access
* They don't understand how it sets others up for success
Yes, employees are supposed to use systems - but if they aren't, don't be quick to jump to a conclusion about the reason. Take the time to learn the user's point of view and be open to the possibility of discovering something important. You, or another employee, may want to work side by side, using the system and discussing how it works, or how it can be improved. If the issue is simply the employee isn't using a system, reconnect them to the heart and logic of the system - why the system exists and how it benefits them, others in your business, or your customers. Educate them on their role in "Use, Prove, or Improve" by telling them one of the most important things they can do is prove a system needs to be improved! Of course, the only way to do that is to use a system consistently!
Here at Benchmark Business Group, we strongly believe it is each employee's responsibility to use and prove systems. It is the employee's responsibility, while using a system, to prove that it works, or prove that it doesn't work. We recommend you encourage every employee to give suggestions on ways to change the system for better results. Take the time to celebrate and congratulate an employee that proves a system needs to be improved! Systems can get outdated, become inefficient, or be overly complicated. Especially when a new system is rolled out you want your team to get out their red pens and get critical! You need them to prove a system works, or suggest ways for it to work better. Proving a system works isn't just about finding fault, employees must also be a part of suggesting improvements.
As mentioned previously, systems are dynamic. They are evolving and changing as your business needs change. So when a system is used and proven not to get the results it was designed to get, then the system needs to be improved. "Use, Prove, Improve" isn't about only telling the company what is wrong about a system; it's about employees taking ownership to suggest improvements, to be a part of making work - work better. Improving a system can be as simple as moving a desk or a shelving unit for more efficiency. Or, as complicated as hiring and training more employees. It can also be expensive, such as needing new software or equipment. Employees can and should suggest improvements; however, they also need to understand your business has priorities on what can be focused on and limits to the amount of time and money it can commit to solutions. Keep in mind every suggestion is a good one, but not all are possible. Every suggestion is an invitation for a robust, transparent conversation with employees on process improvement. And, as you may guess, even when a system is improved, it still isn't final. All systems in a business are continuously being used, proved, or improved. The cycle never ends. A business relies on its employees to keep the systems running to match the dynamic needs of the business. The culture of a business should include the importance of every employee to use, prove, and help to improve each and every system.
This month we laid out our point of view on systems. To sum up this month, a business needs to make sure all systems are working and being worked. Systems need to be owned by the business and not in the heads of the people walking in and out every day. Systems need to be documented and accessible for employees to easily put into action. Lastly, they need to be used, proved and improved continuously. If you have well-designed systems in place that are used, proved, and improved by your employees then your business is set up for success.