Three Unshakable Laws of Systems that Actually Work in Your Business

David Finkel

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Cheryl owned a successful glass installation company in California with three locations. She had worked hard to build the internal processes and procedures so that her business would be systems driven. But when I spoke with her she was completely frustrated. She shared that she simply couldn't get her team to actually use the systems she had created for the business. Short of firing every employee and starting over with a new team she simply didn't know what to do.

Cheryl's frustration is a common one. Many business leaders shake their fists at the sky and howl in frustration at how their team doesn't consistently follow the internal systems they have in place.

Before you blame your team however, is it possible that the manner in which you have tried to implement systems inside your company is flawed? Gut check time - review the following 3 laws to getting systems to be used in your company - are you following all three of them? Or are you breaking one or more of them?

Law #1 One: Involve your team in creating and refining your systems.

The more you let your team help cook the meal, the more they will be willing to eat after.

Too many business owners simply hand their team ready made systems to which their team had little input. To your team it can feel like they have no control nor say in the matter. "Thou shalt follow this system as prescribed!"

If you want your team to buy into using systems, give them a real voice in their creation. Where possible, get your team to be the ones who create the systems for your company. This may require you get them outside training on what it means to create a system - so do it.

Obviously not every team member is qualified to build a business system for you, but even still, the more you involve them in giving feedback on the systems - feedback that you take seriously and use to refine the system-the more your team will use the systems you have.

Law #2: Get the format of the system to be user-friendly.

Every system has two layers to it - the process layer (step one, step two, step three...) and the format layer (how you package your system.)

Assuming your step by step process is correct, if people aren't using the system then there is only one reason - the format layer is messed up.

Your team wants to do a good job. They want to be productive. If they aren't using a specific system that likely means that the format of that system is cumbersome, slow, or maddening.

For example, we once had a 26-step process to post new updates to a section of our website (embarrassing to admit, but true). Obviously no team member is going to wade through 26 steps. The real fix came from improving the system to one that only required 4 steps (in this case through upgrading our technology backbone.)

Here are some examples of "formats" to package your system:

- A worksheet.
- A script.
- A sample or template.
- A short video.
- A formatted spreadsheet.

Law #3: Your team must be able to find the exact system they need in 60 seconds or less.

Gone are the days of "Policies and Procedures Manuals." This is the era of google. People want to be able to run a quick key word search of your systems folder and immediately locate the system they need to get the job done.

The core to make this happen is to create a simple naming structure and discipline of housing all your company's systems in one location (likely on a secure cloud storage system.) Make sure you give system names that are clear and complete. Ask yourself, "What will someone search under when they google the folder to find this system?"

There you have three critical rules to help get your team using your systems as you scale your company.

About the Author:
David Finkel
is co-author of, SCALE: 7 Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back (written with Priceline.com co-founder Jeff Hoffman), and one of the nation's most respected business thinkers. A Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business books, David's weekly business owner e-letter is read by 100,000 business owners around the world. David is the CEO of Maui Mastermind®, one of the nation's premier business coaching companies. Over the past 20 years, David and the other Maui coaches have personally scaled and sold over $2 billion of businesses.

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