Process is critical to small and large business success. In my personal business coaching practice I find that initially the self-employed business owner, executive or manager puts almost their entire focus on results. Results are the critical measurement of any progress. Yet, the most important focus, and the one that is most overlooked, is process.
Process Determines Outcome
Process determines results. First you must have the right process in place to receive the results you desire. I have had many examples in my business coaching practice of the importance of process, especially in small business.
There was a small, growing company that just seemed to have the magic touch. I am sure you are familiar with the story. Things just fell into place. They hired employees. The business continued to grow and become more profitable.
Then, in a period of 3 months things started to go in the wrong direction. What was the problem? More specifically, what was the process that was bringing these undesired results?
Process Will Help You Talk About The Elephant Under The Carpet
My observation is that when things are going well human nature tends to ignore the signs of trouble. This is especially true in small business where very often people and resources are stretched to the maximum. The self-employed business owner, entrepreneur or executive doesn’t want a pause or to stop on what they see as the inevitable road to success.
The problem is this. Without the right process there is no inevitable road to success. In this particular company, as we investigated the process I saw right away that there were no specific job descriptions. The key word is specific.
It is impossible to have a good job description, set expectations and measure results without specificity. We started with job descriptions and the process each person was going through.
Process Will Uncover Your Keys To Success
As this company went through creating the job descriptions and work flow charts most of the employees were very supportive. There was one who wasn’t. She had become the hub around which the wheel of this business turned.
In fact, it came out in my conversations with the owners that they were afraid to confront her. There response to the refusal to confront her was this. “If we lose her I don’t know how we could make it.”
If your business is dependent on people who you feel can’t be replaced then you are not in a good business. And, it almost always means that you do not have a good process when it comes to job descriptions or accountability or that you have a process and are not using it.
Solutions Come Through Process
As we talked about this employee it became apparent that this had to change. Once we got the process in place for evaluating everyone the owners became more willing to look at, and more importantly because the process made it clear, able to see what this person was doing and how it was affecting the business.
The conclusions were jarring. This employee was stealing time, causing dissension with the others, slowing things down to suit her schedule and belittling the owners to prospects and customers. Why would she do that? She eventually wanted to have her own business and steal some of her employers clients.
Once again, this is not an unfamiliar story. But with the process in place for evaluation of job performance and results, this person quit of her own accord within a couple of weeks. The game was up and she knew it. As for the results, company profitability took a short term dive but within three months they were back on track to new records in sales and profitability.
The even better news was that the owners, now armed with specific job descriptions had no fear of hiring because they had a well-defined position to offer. Very often, what holds small business owners back from making personnel changes is that they really don’t know what it is that their employees are doing. They have a general idea but that is not good enough when you are hiring.
When you have a process that is specific you are much more likely to hire the right person. You won’t feel as if you are being held hostage by your employees. Best of all with the right process you will feel that you are running your small business instead of feeling that your small business is running you. Have a good process and you will be able to deal with the elephants you see as well as the elephants under the carpet.
Yes, process does determine outcome!