Another episode in the Q&A video series for SME’s and business leaders.
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Whilst we’re talking about business systems it’s one thing to have systems in your business, it’s another thing altogether to have your team following those systems. So in this episode we’ll be looking at how do you encourage your team to follow the systems that you’ve got in place and importantly, why your team might actually like having systems to reduce their stress and to enable them to be more autonomous.
Stuart: I’m Stuart Ayling and I’m speaking at the moment with Dave Jenyns and Dave is the founder of systemHUB and systemology and he focuses on helping business owners to step out of their daily operations. And he does that through a process he’s developed to quickly and easily easily systematize a business and duplicate the best practice, and we’ll find out a bit more from Dave about how that really works within the business. So thanks for being here again Dave.
Dave: Fantastic thank you for having us again.
Stuart: Well look, the topic for this chat is how does a business owner encourage staff to actually follow the systems? Because it’s one thing to have systems in the business and even if you’ve got some really good staff, everyone likes to be a bit in control of their own their own destiny or like to be a bit autonomous.
In fact some years back I was reading the book by Dan Pink, his best selling book that’s called DRIVE – the suprising truth about what motivates us, and one of the key factors he mentioned was that autonomy, you know that sense of control over doing our tasks and making your own decisions, is really important in terms of fostering motivation within a team or at work, so how does this whole idea of systematizing a business then help an employee be more autonomous? Because the reason I’m asking the question is, if they’ve got a system in place is it taking away their autonomy?
Dave: I actually think it helps them to be more autonomous. Now when I think of autonomy I think about self reliance, being able to work on ones own, not feeling like you’ve got you know someone micromanaging and looking over your shoulder, and you know watching your every single move so that no-one likes to work under those conditions everybody likes to have that feeling that they are in control of what it is that they’re doing. So when you show a team member how to do a task or do their role really really well. When you show them what’s required for success, or how to excel in that role when you show them if they get stuck where can they go to get an answer without necessarily feeling like, you know, sometimes people think “oh that’s that’s a silly question” or “I should know the answer to that” and then there’s a little bit of hesitation about asking for help for that reason.
Where as if you have a knowledge base, an area where you’re storing your best practice systems, processes, checklists, those sorts of things, that actually helps them to be more autonomous and there’s a little bit of a misnomer that staff won’t like to follow systems and processes. And often times that stems from the business owner who again we talked about in an earlier session, is this visionary type person, often times they move quick, they break things, they try and solve whatever problems are going on. They’ve got a very different mindset but…
Stuart: Yeah often they like chasing the adrenaline rush of achieving something new, solving a problem, winning a new client, and just let the team handle everything else in the back.
Dave: Exactly, and it’s not everybody is wired that way. In fact the business owner is usually the exception. A lot of people like to have a bit more comfort and know what it is that they’re working on, how they can do a great job, and systems and processes really help to do that. Another part of it as well is making sure that you build that culture within the organisation and we can dig into a little bit more about that but I think the key takeaway here is that if you get this in place and you train it from day one, and people become familiar and comfortable with it that this is how we do things.
And it’s part of the on boarding and the culture, you’ll actually find that the buy-in is quite easy. Typically the biggest challenge you have is when you’re trying to shift to a systems culture. If you haven’t had one in the past, and you’re trying to install systems thinking in a business that’s when you find the resistance because you’ve got some team members who always done things are certain way. Why do we need to change? I’ve been doing this for the last five years and now you’re telling me there’s a different process here? You know, I know better, or I’m above the rules, or whatever the case may be. But you’ll find new team members, if they’re hired and this is all they know from day one, and they went through the process and they were trained at the outset, here’s how we do things here, then it’s much easier for those team members to follow that process and you give them a lot more autonomy.
Stuart: Yeah OK, so the sooner the business owner puts in place systems within their business the sooner it is that their team then starts to accept that as just being normal, and if you like being that baseline or in some ways maybe that benchmark of performance saying well this is the level to what we need to do things around here.
Then they can focus their performance, sort of what I’m reading between the lines here as well, is that if if you’ve got two members who are given the system to follow they can then focus their attention on the way they deliver that and maybe the quality of the work they doing rather than the steps, and maybe getting frustrated with some things which aren’t quite coming together. They’ve got right systems in place, they can then focus their efforts on that more in some ways that more creative area which then gives in that autonomy, so that’s what I’m hearing also from what you’re saying.
Dave: Yeah and I suppose the distinction there as well around what autonomy is and if autonomy is this creativity, it kind of sounds like you’re including this idea of feeling like that autonomy is creative and someone feeling like they are the master of their own domain, and they can pick the direction that they head, and how they do things.
And I think a lot of autonomy has to do with this idea that someone just feels in control and part of that will come from training, knowing how things are done. Like when you actually empower someone by giving them a framework to work within because then they understand the rules of the game, they know how to excel, they know where to go when they’ve got problems, and that gives them that extra autonomy and level of freedom that way.
Stuart: OK interesting. Well look just to sum up then what we’ve been talking about here, my question was about how to implement systems in a way that still encourages staff to feel as though they are autonomous and to give them space to make decisions around what they do so they do feel as though they’re in control, and in fact they are in control of what they’re doing, but they’re using systems as that framework or those guide posts to, sort of do the work that they’re doing.
Dave: I might add to this beacuse it’s quite a complex topic when it comes around to getting buy-in and getting team members to follow systems and processes. There are a lot of factors that’s partly why we designed systemology to try to address this. It’s about you know, if we think about the different components you want to get buy-in from the staff so having them involved, you know if it’s existing staff having them involved in the process early as these systems and processes are getting developed, helping them to understand what the benefit is for them so it’s not just about the business owners benefit but also the benefit to the staff member.
Things like they can go away on holidays and tasks can get handled and when they come back they’re not coming back to an inbox filled with hundreds of emails. It’s about letting them know by systemisation they can then delegate and then that creates new opportunities for them to be elevated into higher level positions if they want to. Like you think in terms of the individual of what the benefit is.
There are other components around, like what your software stack is. So if you think about there needs to be a place where you’re storing these systems and processes, that’s what systemHUB is for, but then also you need some form of project management you need a way to be able to allocate tasks to individuals and set a due date so there is a level of accountability. Where you can say here is the task you’re doing, here is how it’s done, and you know once it’s complete I want it checked off and I want it done by this particular date.
And then there’s areas we touched on around building up a culture in the company, around you know the system is always where you look to if an issue happens in business, always look to the system first as the problem. You don’t go to the individual you see is it that a step was missing in the system or process? How can we improve that process? And then it becomes a completely different issue if it was outlined in the system and the team member didn’t follow it.
You want to make sure it’s part of your values that you’re a system thinking organisation. It becomes how you hire and how you onboard. And sometimes I think one of the biggest insights is the business owner recognising that maybe they’re not the best person to be really leading the charge for this shift in the organisation. Maybe they need to find an Operations Manager or someone who can you know side-by-side sit next to them. As far as, almost like complementing where they’re weak, if we talk about…
Stuart: Someone who can focus more on that process side of the business and maybe not that adrenaline rush that we spoke about before but maybe just focusing on or what’s the best way to be doing these tasks within the business. And really focus on that more as you say, the systemised approach to it but complementing what the business owner is well, what their preferences are and the direction they want to take the business in.
Dave: Yeah there’s a big thing here is it’s a complex initiative to undertake, but the rewards are hugely beneficial for doing it. And it’s actually a bridge that all business owners must cross at some point in time if you want to grow beyond sort of that small team.
Like I mean if you’re anywhere between probably about 5 and 30 staff once you kind of get past there you really need to have some structure in place before, you know to stop the chaos kicking in. It just breaks down unless there is sort of that clear process. So you’ve got to do it at some point, you just have to think about when you’re ready to take that step.
Stuart: Yeah and I think probably starts to kick in a bit earlier than the 30 staff level as well. There’s lots of things that need to be managed.
But that’s really great Dave, appreciate you sharing your insights on that, and it’s good to understand that from a staff or an employee perspective that having systems in place can actually be very beneficial for the team members as well and it’s just a matter of how that’s pulled together within the business to make sure everyone’s happy and that they just come to accept the systems are the best way to do it, and they can then focus on how well they’re doing that and how they can improve into the future.
Dave Jenyns from systemHUB thanks again I look forward to seeing you another time.
Dave: Pleasure, thank you.