Stating the obvious, consistency is very important in operating an effective business. We need to be consistent in our branding and marketing, provide consistently good service, be consistent in our communication with our employees. Consistency provides stability in our work that builds reliability and trust over time. And when I say consistency, I mean consistently good or consistently according to our desired outcome.
The value of consistency is nearly universally recognized; but, consistency is almost as universally elusive in our business dealings.
As consumers we see inconsistent service from providers with regularity. I’m absolutely delighted when my meal is prepared the way I ordered it and everyone at the table has their food about the same time! It’s great when products are delivered with all the parts, no defects and at the price I was quoted. I can’t recall a trip where at least one of my flights was not delayed or modified in some way; it’s consistent but not according to my desired outcome.
It’s hard to maintain consistent performance in any business. Small business leaders often find the challenge of creating consistent quality in products and services exhausting. As a business coach I consistently hear owner’s concerns:
- “How can I get my staff to take ownership of the business?”
- “Do you think she does this on purpose?”
- “I can’t get them to do that consistently!”
Some business owners accept inconsistency as “just the way it is” for some time before deciding they can’t take it anymore. Others fight inconsistency from the start but have trouble getting traction and frustration grows rapidly as a result.
So how do you build consistency into your business? Process!
Rarely do small businesses start out with well developed process and procedures. Often small businesses start out with inconsistent performance. I spend a lot of time helping people recognize the need for consistent process and then documenting procedures that help manage for consistency.
How do processes and procedures support consistency?
- Clear Communication
Having documented processes and clear step-by-step procedures make it easy for employees to know what they need to do. It helps remove guess work and facilitates training on the right way to do things.
When things are clearly communicated and documented, we can manage individual actions much more effectively.
By training and holding people accountable to a consistent process / procedure, you can now fine-tune the process to consistently get the desired outcome. The point is not to create an inflexible and ineffective work flow, quite the opposite. Making adjustments to your processes and procedures is necessary and good business. We just want to consistently produce the desired outcome.
It is critical to map out key systems and processes for your business no matter how small. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of trying to develop processes and procedures even if you’ve never done it.
Consider whether you would benefit by having a step-by-step process and procedure for the key functions of your business. Would it help you train your staff? Would it help you know how or why things went off the rails? Could it help you manage for improved consistency from your team?
Get Started on Your Processes and Procedures
The first step to making improvement is almost always recognizing the problem.
If you don’t have consistent processes and procedures in your business, there is no time like the present to get started and I’m happy to help.
It would be too much to tackle the “how to” in one post, so follow our blog for coming guidance on how to go about mapping processes or documenting procedures. You can also send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions on how to get started with your own processes and procedures.