Business owners often find themselves putting out small fires throughout the day and then run out of quality time to handle more important issues. If this is resonating with you, then it is time to get proactive and establish a 'PLAN' so that these fires never get started.
It all begins with planning. It is the process of gathering information and establishing a strategy to achieve your goals; each and every one of them. It can be as simple as wanting your employees to follow up with customers on a timelier basis or solving the bigger problem of not talking to enough potential customers. Ask yourself: What are we doing now? What can we do better? How do we do it?
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE PROCESS:
Create a 'written' process of how you want your employees to handle a particular task that will end up achieving your goal. I am hoping that your employees know your goals and if they don't, best to start there. The existence of a transparent protocol available to your employees will eliminate confusion and serve as a road map for best practices and most importantly---accountability.
For example, illustrate each task that must be done, how to do it and assign an employee to that task-from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top. Once you have planned effectively it is time to get to work and put it in motion. It then becomes a matter of training, training and then some more training.
CHANGE IS OK:
The process can and should be improved upon from time to time. If your goal isn't being reached then it is either the process itself or a lack of understanding of the process. However, before modifying the process make sure that it isn't as simple as a need for more training. Take a fresh look now and then and see what needs to be retooled. Seek feedback from your employees at every level. No matter how hands on as an owner you are, your employees are the 'eyes and ears' on the ground. Not only will they provide valuable input regarding changes that need to be made for efficiency, but they will always appreciate you asking them for their point of view. Make sure they know they matter and they will make sure you know the changes that need to be made to the process. I have found that there have been times that we started a process five years prior and we are still to this day making tweaks.
SELL THE PROCESS:
How does this new process benefit the company? How does it benefit the employee? Talk about the why. Once your employees 'buy in' execution will follow. Spending those few extra minutes will reward you with many hours.