Have you heard of management by objectives? It was first popularized by Peter Drucker in the 1950’s. This is basic goal setting, where you pick (or agree on with your employees) your objectives and then drive everyone to the result. Results are important, but so is keeping control of your organization. That’s where management by procedures comes into play.
The problem with Management by Objectives is that we don’t want to become overly focused on the goals to the point where we begin to ignore the environment around us. What’s better than Management by Objectives?
Management is a contact sport not an objective setting exercise. You have to get out into the field in order to see or “Check” what’s going on in your company (check is part of the Plan Do Check Act cycle of learning). Lean thinking managers naturally walk around to get ideas for new kaizen improvement events, to see the work being performed, and to understand if the right work is being performed. We call these Gemba Walks (Gemba is Japanese for the place where work happens). In a Gemba Walk you want to observe your processes in action and look for signs of lean waste that need to be removed. While effective, management by procedures is even more successful.
Management by procedures is how McDonalds or other successful franchises manage their business. You start by defining your process using a process map to build visual communication and understanding. Next, write down what needs to get done, by whom, and when. Then deploy and practice the procedure. Perfect the procedure until you have a consistent process just like a franchise would need to roll this out to hundreds of others.
Management by procedures is not a paper exercise. It requires basic goal setting from the Management by Objectives crowd and also process checking from the Management by Walking Around group.
What’s different is that you will have process documentation that includes a process map, policies, procedures, and objectives that are clearly posted. Systems are put in place to ensure your employees do not make mistakes. And as a manager, you are actively involved in making sure your systems are working.
We have discussed several ways to make sure procedures are used.
First is to make the required effort to write good procedures. Without investing in the resources to develop well organized and clearly written procedures it is unlikely they will be used.
The next step is to conduct the necessary training. Training creates awareness of the procedure and generates buy-in. Proper training means the staff knows the procedures exist, they understand why, and believe having the procedure is useful.
Finally, when training is followed up and re-enforced with auditing, then you greatly increase the odds that the procedure will be regularly referenced to and followed. Auditing generates a feeling of importance and attention associated with the procedures. It eliminates the perception that procedures are worthless, bureaucratic documents that should be ignored.
WHAT TIES IT ALL TOGETHER?
It is the total or summation of these important components that gets procedures used. Just doing one or the other doesn’t guarantee success. There is one vital, over-arching component, however, that links these activities together and is the key to making them happen: management commitment. Management assigns and allocates the resources in an organization; how the organization spends its time and money.
Generally management in an organization makes the decisions about how people spend their time, and how many people will be spending their time on particular activities. These are both somewhat related to money,of course, but by money we are typically referring to purchasing things like equipment or to bringing in outside resources like consultants, trainers, or technical writers.
Management commitment is not only assigning resources. The priorities of an organization are really determined by how management itself spends its time. If management spends most of its time focusing on financial aspects of an organization while spending little or no time focusing on an organization’s internal processes (where procedures fit in), then where do you think the members of the organization will focus?
This returns to the idea of a balanced scorecard. According to the concept of a balanced scorecard, management should pay attention to four major things in a balanced way: customers, finances, learning and growth (of organization members), and internal processes. If an organization is going to be successful at writing and implementing procedures, then there has to be a management focus in this area. Management delegating it down and then ignoring it leads to what happens too frequently in many organizations: poorly written procedures that are neglected.
So now the ultimate answer to the great mystery of how to get procedures used is revealed. We know that it is important to write procedure so that they are clear and accessible. It is important to conduct training to create awareness and buy-in. Auditing is a key follow-up activity that re-enforces the importance of following procedures. What makes all of these things happen, however, is a management commitment.
A franchise is built with consistent procedures. Franchise owners are trained in the process and systems are put in place, by the franchise organization, to ensure that the franchise delivers the same consistent quality that the brand has built.
Bizmanualz offers a wide variety of procedure manuals that can be easily edited to fit your company’s needs.