CEO troubles: Productivity vs paperwork in a small business
No time to document your processes? A common theme, not only in small companies. A real life example of the dangers and opportunities..
A friend of mine runs a small business with 10 employees and he told me recently of his most embarrassing moment in front of a customer.
An employee hadn’t documented an important deadline correctly that my friend’s company was trusted to support for a client. As a consequence my friend missed that deadline and had to explain it all to a very upset customer. Ouch.
Next thing he tells me is that it drives him half nuts that everyone at work does things his or her way. “But we are really to small to make much use of processes. They are a bureaucratic pain in the neck and I can’t hire a guy just to draw flowcharts!" Obviously my friend is passionate about his business, but not so much about paperwork. Sounds familiar?
First the obvious takeaways:
Even in a small company efficiency increases if standards are created and followed. Chances are there is only one best way of doing things.
Writing it down can come handy, too. Especially when people are away from their desk and that “creative” colleague picks up their tasks during annual or sick leave..
A situation like this is not an uncommon in smaller businesses. So let’s get back to the actual reason why things are the way they are. My friend asked: “With our current workload, how do I establish standards and processes without having to hire someone who takes care of it?”
Great question. The ticket is ownership.
Nothing drives long term efficiency like ownership.
Creating a sense of ownership in your team is not only one of the key enablers for employee satisfaction (along the lines of Dan Pink’s “autonomy”, see comments) it is also indispenible for any efficient organization.
And like all important things this is best discussed over a coffee.