In the words of my favorite Golden Girl Sophia Petrillo, “Picture it! . . .” but instead of picturing Sicily in 1906, I want you to picture a different scenario:
Picture owning a munitions plant, or a machinery factory, or a shipping office.
Picture owning one during the times of a pandemic and struggling to keep your clients, employees, and shareholders engaged.
You probably have some staffing issues and can’t consistently keep new workers because the world and its challenges change every day.
How do you mitigate fallout from the brain drain? How do you streamline training so that the next man up can be prepared to work as soon as possible?
There is a solution but like all things it requires your investment.
The solution is standardization
The thing a munitions plant, machinery factory, and shipping office each have in common is the need to communicate accurate details to their vendors and clients.
Standardizing is thriving.
An accurate quotation is critical as is an accurate measure of the dimensions and purpose of a product.
As an account executive who has worked in the shipping industry for 7+ years, I can’t stress enough the importance of these details.
While you don’t have to look far to find a person who can speak to the merits of data integrity, one might still be surprised by the unfortunate common habit known as “reinventing the wheel”.
A simple definition for “reinventing the wheel” is wasting time trying to do something that has already been done successfully by someone else.
That’s exactly what we’re doing each time we ask a new, inexperienced employee to step in and try to figure out best practices on a job with no standard operating procedure documented.
Even something as simple as gathering data is hampered by the mental fatigue it takes to understand, evaluate, and put into practice the skills they just learned.
One way you can help them get up to speed is to alleviate some of the static information they must retain: the things that don’t change but are always required.
This is where standardization comes in.
As owners, managers, and leaders we must give our staff the tools they need for success.
Asking a new employee to step in and do a job previously done by one person for many years, all without acknowledging the learning curve, is unreasonable.
Instead we need to understand it’s more effective to provide a new employee with documented instructions made available to the whole team.
The same thing goes for data entry.
So often we see new employees asked to gather essential information on the size and shape of goods only to find out they weren’t sure what form we needed the information to be delivered in.
As a former export supervisor I’d like to use the US air export industry as an example:
Generally business is done by starting with the dimensions, given in inches, and the weight in kilograms.
It’s one part metric system, one part imperial system, and wholly confusing.
Given the unique language used in air export it would seem obvious that asking an inexperienced office clerk to gather details for a price quotation can be challenging.
However, there doesn’t need to be guess work for functions your team has been handling since the dawn of time.
If we invest the time to document those functions we reap the benefits in form of reduced penalties for turnover and peace of mind knowing our teams are informed about exactly what they should be doing and how.
Standard Operating Procedures in the workplace
Standardizing in these environments means creating forms to help gather data and take think-work out.
It can be as easy as creating a checklist.
It gives you flexibility because now employees can more easily assist their peers and check each other’s work without having to spend countless hours learning the process.
When employees go on vacation or need sick time it’s often a stretch to have their work covered.
With standardization built into your process you can help your employees achieve the work/life balance they desire by maximizing effectiveness of employees across multiple work functions.
When employees feel supported and part of a team you get the best out of your staff. Standardization encourages this feeling organically.
Standardization: In Numbers
Worse, nearly 60% estimate they could save six or more hours a week by eliminating or reducing these tasks.
If these numbers aren’t jumping off the page at you then let’s put it in perspective; 120 of your 300 employees believe they spend 10 of their 40 working hours doing repetitive work.
180 of those 300 employees think they can save 6 hours a week. That’s 1,080 payroll hours each week!
It’s going to be very expensive if you don’t find ways to streamline the process.
Free up your team to chase additional revenue streams
When looked at through this lens it’s clear; if the processes were standardized then profitability would greatly increase.
Whether it’s finding additional revenue or reducing staffing; there’s money being left on the table by not standardizing your forms, checklists, and tasks.
Standardizing your everyday functions is a means to secure your operations.
It gives your team the tools to achieve maximum productivity and it lessens mental fatigue stemming from repetitive little details.
Overall, your team will have more capacity to tackle the harder challenges.
In the office environment standardization encourages cross training, contributes to a resilient team, and it promotes inclusiveness.
In the warehouse it can help teams learn to speak the same language. It ensures the integrity of the data you seek to contain.
Standardization takes the sting out of turnover because the learning curve for new hires will be less steep.
By ensuring your processes are standardized you ensure your entire team is on the same page. Clients, employees, and shareholders included.
With the extra time saved by standardizing your processes you can rest assured your team can be freed up for more complicated and detailed objectives. I can picture now.
Ricky Williams submitted this article as a volunteer for the Help With Your Hustle community. If you ever need help with standardization, shipping, or logistics, he is here to help. Send him a message on Linkedin to get a conversation started.