By: Jonny Baker, Senior Manager, Strategic Management Consulting Services
The following is part four of a four-part series on business processes, including the need for clarity, proper design, appropriate communication, and commensurate monitoring.
Most every successful business organization we have known from the last century has ceased to exist; what steps are you taking to make sure you do not make this list? As leaders, we must communicate the bigger picture of the organization to every person, and our business processes must be connected to that goal. Otherwise, the process will fail and possibly our people and organization with it.
Previously, we discussed process design and the importance of employee buy-in. If employee buy-in is handled appropriately in the design phase, the communication and monitoring phases will be easier. To successfully communicate a business process to the organization, we must ensure the entity is ready for the communication by answering some critical questions.
These questions include:
- Do we have answers to our organization’s key strategic questions, such as, “What do we do?” and “How will we win?” “Can our teams reiterate the answers independently?”
- “Has buy-in been obtained from all levels?”
- “Is communication tailored to the organization appropriately?”
FIRST THINGS FIRST – BIGGER PICTURE
Typically, company leadership is good at seeing the big picture, while employees are good at getting things done. When these two groups are disconnected, unnecessary work is created for both. As a result, the business and its people are negatively impacted. These are the types of things that take away from the bottom line, the bonus pool, and the mission of the organization. Assuming the organization has answered the primary strategic questions and has aligned organizational goals to team and individual goals, the business process simply needs to be vetted against those preestablished strategic criteria. For example: if your organizational mission is to be a health-minded purveyor of organic goods, it might not be a good idea to offer genetically modified ice cream with 672 grams of sugar. Aren’t you glad we caught that potentially costly misalignment? You are welcome!
BUY-IN FROM ALL LEVELS
Before any new business process is to be implemented, a couple items must be finalized. First, we must ensure all teams affected by the process are on board and understand the need for the change(s). Also, employees must have a clear path to success as it fits their specific role: Also known as, what’s in it for me? To accomplish these objectives contextually, a series of individual meetings may be needed to review the specifics of the business process to allow those affected to voice concerns. Conversely, these meetings may be team meetings where concerns are voiced and worked through. A combination of both individual and team meetings is likely the best practice to ensure all valuable input is obtained before moving forward. People want to know how things will affect them. We all want to know this in some way and need to answer the following questions for each employee:
- “How will this change affect the employee?” (Translated: How much more work is this for the employee?)
- “How will this change benefit the employee?” (Translated: Is there a carrot at the end here?)
- “What will happen if they choose not to follow this change?” (Translated: Is there a stick involved?)
- “What will happen if they choose to follow this change?” (Translated: They like carrots, how many can they get?)
Even if the leadership team does not completely agree with the process change and rollout, they must be unified and aligned. If one divisional leader undermines the process to his team, do not expect that division to support the business process change or even value the change process. And, why would they? Employees have been given permission to misalign with company leadership or at least the objectives the executive team agreed to support. When applied correctly, disagreement and conflict can be healthy. Healthy organizations have plenty of positive disagreement and conflict. However, negative misalignment must be ferreted out, corrected, and timely remediated. Once the leadership team has decided to support the change, leadership must be unified in its support. We should have buy-in from all key affected groups and individuals, other than that one individual out there on the periphery that will let you know they did not buy-in. , we can chat offline about ‘that’ employee. We need to have a well-documented process, both visually mapped and written in a narrative form for when ‘that’ employee and any new employee comes around. Once these are complete, we are ready to communicate the process to the organization at large.
Communication is vital to the success of any initiative. After the team has done good work, the success needs to be lauded to the teams and organization at large. This will help reinforce a culture focused on the strengthening of controls, creating opportunities for efficiency, and saving its scarce resources. After all of this, many times a change team fails in the rollout space by not giving the revised process the space, context, or emphasis it warrants.
TAILORED COMMUNICATION (to communicate the importance to the team—create that team attitude—we are making this change because it will help all of us)
We must create space and context for the revised business process to be communicated. The appropriate communication for a business process is specific to each organization. The primary method of communication for the new business process almost never involves email. When a new business process rolls out, it is very important the affected teams are involved. Equally critical, the individual responsible for monitoring the process must deliver the communication, and other teams impacted must be supportive or at least expectant. Take the 30-minutes to do this right. Why would you spend all this time to watch the business process become less and less relevant as other things compete for attention in email inboxes? During this initial 30-minute meeting, which should be held in a space large enough to accommodate key employees, we should cover:
- Why the change is needed,
- Where documents will be located for future reference, and
- What supporting trainings will be held to explain the new business process.
If the initial communication is done well, it can create excitement about the business process change that does not taper off. This will lead to continuous improvement in the organization that is driven by the most key employees of all, the end-users.
The newly launched business process is ready for monitoring. Process Monitoring and Continuous Improvements will be covered in our next and final installment. Thank you for reading this third installment.
KHA Management Consultants, the consulting wing of KHA Accountants, PLLC, based in Flower Mound, Texas, is always looking for key clients ready to take their business to the next level. If you have a desire to improve, take the first step toward success with the process experts, contact us at 972-221-2500.