No, seriously – paperwork can make your life easier if it is the right kind. If it is the wrong kind it can make your life much more difficult (living hell comes to mind).
Did you know there is a right kind and a wrong kind? Many owners do. Many do not.
A lot of us have to deal with the wrong kind, which gives us a negative attitude about it. We think it is the only type there is, and want no part of it. But, there are other options.
Too many business owners are all or nothing. They either have too many or too few policies and procedures – neither works. The right kind of paperwork is simple to follow, easy to understand and worthwhile to do. It is part of a system that defines, documents and gives everybody the information he or she needs to run a successful company effectively.
The goal is to have just enough policies and procedures to make sure everybody is efficiently rowing in the same direction. But, not so much they end up in a swirling whirlpool frantically rowing and going nowhere. Or not so little they are scattered all over the river with no one knowing where they are going or how to get there.
So, how do you create the right kind of paperwork? First, ask yourself these questions:
- What 3 goals do you have for the business? How are you defining, tracking and measuring them? When and how will you know if you have succeeded or failed? Why and how are your employees and key people contributing to or sabotaging them?
- How visible, understandable and transparent are your processes? How did they come about, does anyone follow them and can you and others explain why he or she exists? Are they doing what you intended? If not, why not? If so, can you make them simpler?
- What data and facts do you have (not guesses)? How often do you look at them? Can you and others use them as a management tool? Do they show how to correct problems and decrease risk (e., quality, compliance, operations, rework, customer concerns)? If not, why not? Can you make the data easier to understand and use?
- Did you know the number one complaint employees have is that management does not enforce workplace rules? All employees want structure and rules – yes, even the bad ones. What is your disciplinary system and is it in writing? Is it progressive? Do you enforce it? Why not? Why should good, responsible people work for you? What plan do you have to retain them?
If you want your business to be successful, and have an easier life, the objective is not “avoid paperwork” – that is shortsighted and counterproductive. The goal is to have only the right kinds, the ones who add value for you, customers and employees.
It takes commitment, time and work, to get started; worthwhile things usually do. Make no mistake, if it was effortless more people would be doing it. But, they are not, and more importantly, your competition is not.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: