“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing” ― W. Edwards Deming
WHY PROCESS IMPROVEMENT MATTERS
High Performing Teams rely on efficient processes. If you’re building a high performing team, you will need to understand and improve your team processes.
Standardizing and improving our processes starts with documenting them. This could be as simple as asking ourselves: who do we serve? what do we do? who does what? how do they do it?
You also want to be clear on what is the goal of the process improvement exercise. Do you want to save time, find efficiencies, improve quality of service?
INCREASING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Process improvement is an important factor in increasing employee engagement. It allows people to connect their role with the organization’s mission and allows them to take ownership of their roles. People are less likely to resist what they have created.
When implementing standardization we need to create a fine balance between eliminating needless variation in methods and making work oppressively rigid and obnoxiously bureaucratic.
We can also recognize we do not have to standardize everything. Also, agreeing on what processes need to be standardized should engage people in not only the development but sustained implementation.
MAPPING YOUR CURRENT PROCESSES
You cannot improve what you cannot understand. Understanding and mapping your process is the first step of process improvement. Invite the person(s) who are directly involved with a process. Explain the purpose of the session and ask them to be as clear and objective as possible, when explaining what they do. This is only about current state.
Then, ask them to break it into small pieces and draw them as a process. There are many tools, some of them free, for us to do it electronically. Or you can take a bunch of sticky notes and a marker, and it will work as well.
Write only one simple task (starting with a verb) per sticky note. Describe the process step by step. Get clarity on who does what. You may also want to take additional notes on how long does it take to do something, if there is any processing time or any pain point in the process. You are not fixing anything at this point, just making notes.
The next step in this process is to think about ways to improve the process. What can be automated, simplified, standardized? What are your clients and your employees’ pain points? What could be done to improve the clients and employees’ experience? If possible, ask them to be part of the process redesign.
Download our roadmap for Building a High Performing Team and make sure there is alignment between your strategic directions and plans, and your processes.