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Don’t forget your staff when changing procedures

By By Nicholas Upton

Everyone has had that job. You’re working along efficiently and getting stuff done when a superior swoops in and changes everything. That well-oiled machine is now on fire and the staff is trying to manage a clunky new system that just doesn’t work.

This happens across all industries, at every level and in just about every business at some point. But it doesn’t have to.

Steve New wrote an interesting piece for the Harvard Business Review that takes a glance at the ubiquitous practice. He shines the light on some pretty scary effects, including the ability for just about anyone to open a bank account in someone else’s name. The bank bureaucracy sent the process down the mountain without talking to a single teller. And then those tellers were tasked with supporting a flawed process.

Don’t be that bank. Any superior from the sales office to the boardroom must pay close attention to those front line workers. Watching exceptional producers should be the guideline, not “the nerds” as New calls them back in the home office. Certainly, data must be observed to guide decisions, but analytics must be examined alongside the day-to-day tasks.

New puts it very well, and what he writes applies to every business.

“If process management means cumbersome bureaucracy devised by distant experts, disaster awaits. But organizations that get their central nerds to engage consistently with the people who do the work, then process problems can come to the surface quickly and be tackled head on. Even better, empower workers at all levels to participate in process design and experimentation — to connect with their inner nerd,” writes New. “Process thinking becomes a part of everyone’s job.”

So next time you’re looking for a new efficiency, roll up your sleeves and jump into the fray -- or at least talk to someone who does.

 

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