Organizations are responsible for creating systems and infrastructures that support employee performance.
A speaker at an IHI Conference once said:
“every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets”.
This is so simple – yet so true.
Good employees, who are forced to work with bad internal systems, often fail.
Consequently, improving the system will ultimately improve employee performance.
Bad Process Example
I met with a manager recently who expressed how she had done a poor job of communicating with her employees.
She explained that she had dropped the ball when it came to communicating and interacting with her staff, which ultimately resulted in a key employee resigning.
We spoke for a while, and I explained to her that failing to communicate should be recognized as a process issue.
And, if she could see it from that perspective, then any improvement would be focused on the process instead of her.
I asked the manager if she had a communication “process.”
In other words, did she have a predetermined day or time that she communicated with her employees, or did she communicate only when issues arose or when she casually thought about it?
She explained that there was no communication process and she was so busy she just didn’t think about it much.
She shared that the more employees pressured her for interaction, communication, or information, the more she retreated – because she was simply overwhelmed.
We then talked about establishing some basic processes that would help alleviate obstacles to communicating.
Some would label her as a bad manager.
But I would like to think she simply needs help in improving her management processes.
In the example above, the employee resigned because they didn’t feel like they had ample opportunity to meet with their manager to discuss department related issues.
The breakdown in communication between the manager and employee caused frustration for the employee, which over time turned into discouragement and ultimately a decision to resign.
Communication processes need to be structured to ensure there is consistency in sharing helpful information with employees.
Whether it is a weekly staff meeting, quarterly state-of-the-organization meeting, or monthly one-on-one meetings, providing a structured, predictable process helps employees know that their issues will be heard, the information will be shared and they will be provided the opportunity to ask questions.
Had the manager created a structured, predictable communication process, the unresolved issues might have been avoided.
And, if the organization had formal communication processes that managers were held accountable for, the manager would have been better structured to communicate.
I am familiar with has a very structured communication model.
- The board meets with the CEO,
- the CEO then shares information with managers,
- Managers are required to meet with staff to ensure information flows throughout the organization.
Managers are also required to meet with their employees – at least monthly, and performance appraisals are done at least once a year.
A structured model like this works well because it forces managers to communicate with employees.
Structured Processes Help Employees Do a Good Job
Structured management processes, help managers to do a good job.
Whether is it is a communication process, performance management process, or a simple purchasing process, every organization needs structured processes to ensure there is predictability in all internal systems.
This focus on improving the process translates into an improved work environment for the employees who use them.