A lady with her arms out expressing her confusion at the policies or procedures

6 reasons that processes fail

Processes are an essential part of keeping your business ticking over and running as smoothly as possible. However, when processes don’t go to plan or pan out the way we expect, we are all too quick to blame our staff. We assume they don’t understand or just aren’t pulling their weight but this is not always the case!

1. Responsibilities are unclear 🤔

If you decide a process needs to be carried out and you communicate it to all of your staff then it won’t be clear enough who is responsible. Your staff will be confused as to who is supposed to be doing the process and will therefore just assume that someone else is getting it done. It’s only when you check that the process is being carried out that you find out they haven’t been done at all!

Tip: To overcome this problem, it’s essential that when you create a new process you clearly define exactly who needs to carry it out. Send it to the member of staff in writing so that they won’t forget it or say that they were not told. Thoroughly explain what is expected of them and make it clear that they are accountable for getting it done. 

2. You don’t tell staff the ‘why’ 🙄

You tell staff exactly ‘what’ the process entails but you fail to explain ‘why’ the process was implemented and what problems it is going to solve. If you don’t explain exactly why the process was created then staff are not going to be engaged with it because they won’t associate it with any importance or value. They will simply see it as yet another unnecessary task that they need to get done.

Tip: Whenever you create a new process you should also create a document which explains why the process was created. This document should include: when you first realised you needed to create the process and why, what problem it is solving, what you hope the outcome will be after the processes are completed. By doing this you help yourself and other people to explain to their staff the ‘why’ behind the new formality. 

3. You don’t have the process written down ✍️

When you only explain the process verbally you have no solid form of reference which staff can turn to. This leaves you open to many problems including: staff guessing the process, staff repeatedly asking you to repeat the process, and staff getting the process wrong.

Tip: It doesn’t take a genius to work out what the tip is here. You MUST write all of your processes out! Or even better turn them into simple checklists so that there is no ambiguity or confusion about what needs to get done. Oplift offers digital checklists so your staff can simply swipe left or right if a task has or hasn’t been completed. Once they have completed the checklist, any tasks that haven’t been completed will be alerted straight to head office. This saves any problems from going unnoticed.  

4. No timeframes have been implemented ⏰

You have communicated the process but you haven’t specified when they need to be done, how often, and at what time. If you assume your staff will know when they need to be done because it is extremely obvious to you, then you are again, leaving your process open to failure. Similar to point number two, if you don’t give exact details staff will just assume the process is not important and doesn’t require urgent attention.

Tip: You must detail exact time frames for your process. Either write these on the process document, or in your morning brief remind staff who needs to carry out the process and by what time you expect them to have it done by. Oplift’s checklist feature enables you to set deadlines for when your checklist needs to be completed by, these can be hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly. 

5. Nobody reports any problems with the process 👎

You may have completed a process but not sufficiently thought about how it would be used in a real-life scenario. Because of this, staff carry out the process then realise it is flawed and give up rather than reporting it to anyone. For example, you’ve set a process up for your lorry drivers to complete daily, however certain tasks on the list don’t apply to them on a Wednesday and Friday. Because of this they end up not doing the process all week.

Tip: Before you communicate any process to your entire business, you should always have a practice run through with the employee who will be responsible for carrying it out. Ask them to make a note of any issues or thoughts that arise when they work their way through the process. This will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. 

6. The process isn’t supported by everyone 🙅‍♀️

Perhaps you have stated that you would like a certain thing to be done before every Monday catchup, however, your other manager isn’t on board with the process so they don’t care if it’s not done. This sends confusing signals to your staff and they won’t be sure whether it should or shouldn’t be carried out. Eventually, they will not focus their efforts on the process at all because if all managers aren’t on board then it conveys that the process isn’t very important anyway.

Tip: It is wise to fully go through your process with your other colleagues and explain the ‘why’ behind its importance. If they disagree you can discuss and come up with a process which they do agree with. This way you can be sure that everyone is on board and that your staff are receiving a clear message.


Other posts that may be of interest to you:

Are terrible processes at work ruining your success?

6 things that you think your staff love but they actually hate

8 horrifying things you should never say to your employees

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 12th December 2018