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Getting procedures used

Procedure for using a stapleless stapler

Short, practical procedures work

If you have gone to the effort of creating some procedures, you want to have your team make use of them.

Let’s face it, many of us have tried putting together an Ikea unit before reading the instructions – often to use them later. But we don’t want that happening to the procedures we spend time on writing to benefit our businesses.

Here are four tips for encouraging use of your procedures:

  1. when presenting them (for instance, if emailing it out to your team), sell the benefits.
    Would you respond better to ‘procedure you must use’ or ‘record sales data quickly’?
  2. lay out each procedure clearly and neatly
    if it looks easy to read and follow, people are much more likely to use procedures  so use the basics of good procedures such as lists rather than paragraphs, decent size fonts and short instructions (‘hit submit’ not ‘use your mouse to click on the submit button’)
  3. make the procedures easy to find
    if you have a shared computer area (intranet or a shared folder somewhere) or a physical shelf or cupboard, put the procedures there so everyone can always access to most recent version. For specific equipment, keep the procedures nearby – I don’t want to have to visit the main office to use the machinery in the workshop. Then make sure procedures are named clearly so it’s easy to find the relevant procedure when it is needed.
  4. keep procedures up to date
    imagine following a procedure that has an old password or refers to an old version of software (especially a major change so steps have changed) – it’s very frustrating. Let people get frustrated with your procedures and they’re less likely to refer to it again. Most updates are quick but if it is a big change and will take time, note that on the existing procedure so at least people know to expect changes and that a new version is coming.

What makes you use any procedures you find helpful?

5 Responses to Getting procedures used

  • onlinebusinessgal says:

    This is excellent advice. I agree that a copy of procedures should always be available in areas most frequently used by the team that needs those procedures. Having the most current list is also critical. I sometimes see work areas with procedures listed that are clearly out of date. I often wonder if they simply neglected to post an updated copy or if the procedures have not been updated.

    • tashword says:

      An update procedure should include putting new versions up on walls or whatever, but so often people don’t include such obvious details in a procedure which can eventually lead to steps being forgotten.

  • UmiNoor says:

    Personally, no matter how well-written a set of procedures is, when I was working, I never referred to them. I would always ask someone, a long-time employee, the exact steps to do certain task. It’s much faster and it’s being told from experience. Sometimes the procedures that are set on paper are just for formality sake and the exact way to do certain things are different from the formal procedures.

    • tashword says:

      Good procedures will not be different from the reality and therefore are useful – unfortunately, many procedures are not done very well so people have built up perceptions such as yours, UmiNoor, and don’t expect procedures to be helpful.

      As a business owner, I don’t want you asking me how to do something over and over so procedures are there as a reference (I would explain the first time or two). As a worker, I do understand the appeal of asking someone.

      • onlinebusinessgal says:

        I think you are absolutely correct. Many procedures are not well prepared or presented. In some cases, they are not even well written. As a result, many employees do not trust procedures and do not take the time to read and refer to written procedures. I agree with you, however, that I would not want my employees to approach me time and time again about something that is clearly explained in the procedures.

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