One way to simplify your management system is to reduce the number of super-detailed text-based procedures. Once they are in place, you might be temped to audit simply to see if everyone’s following them. This causes two problems.
The first problem is that the ‘follow the procedures or else’ message creates a culture of fear. During an internal audit employees may be tempted to hide problems and try to show how they are ‘following the procedure’. Hiding problems is a recipe for disaster.
The second more damaging problem is that people will be discouraged from finding ways to improve the effectiveness of your management system. If auditors are focused on ‘are you following the rules?’ then they aren’t assessing whether your processes are giving your organization the results that you want.
No one in your organization woke up this morning and asked themselves, “I wonder how badly I can do my job today?” As humans, we are hard wired for success and growth. If we restrict employees in their ability to produce results, we are short-changing ourselves on the profitability side of our organization. If your people know how to do their work, give them the tools to do it and get out of their way! We would never see a set of work instructions in a surgery suite. Checklists? Yes! Surgeons putting their initials on the patient as an assurance of operating on the right part? Sure…small things can make a difference, and save huge mistakes.
If you live in a highly regulated industry that has lots of requirements for documented procedures, use flowcharts (they can become your audit path), a series of pictures or videos to document how you want to achieve the results you and your customers are looking for. There’s plenty of evidence that text-based procedures simply don’t work. They require a lot more maintenance and they don’t encourage innovation for better results.
Tap into the potential in your employees’ talents by giving them credit for having a brain and get them engaged in improving your system. Everybody wins!
Know Quality, Know Profit…No Quality, No Profit
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