We have all heard the saying that “There is no ‘I’ in Team,” and there is literal and figurative truth to that statement. Your company is made of many departments that need to cooperate and work together for a common goal. If those departments are or become a workplace silo, then the saying “There is no “I” in team” may have a reply of, “Yes, but there is a ‘me.’” Workplace silos occur when your departments fail to share important information between themselves, causing their priorities to become misaligned. So it’s no longer a team effort, but rather a protective controlling department that’s only out for what’s best for their department and not for the good of all.
I believe that creating a culture of having everyone in sync as a team starts with semantics.
Call them a “Team”! If you ask any successful NFL quarterback what he attributes a great win or a successful season to, he won’t answer, “I did this, or I did that…”. He will credit the team effort, especially his offensive line for allowing him to be successful. Yes, there are the exceptionally great quarterbacks that outperform the mediocre ones, yet they still need the entire team effort from the offense, to defense, to special teams to work together as a TEAM, to be successful. TEAM EFFORT!
In the foundation of developing a team, you will need processes and procedures to guide your team members to have instructions on how to carry out their tasks in a team effort manner. Sometimes the words “process” and “procedure” are used interchangeable, yet there are distinct differences.
The difference between a process and a procedure is quite substantial. A process is more surface-level that relates what needs to be done in a certain aspect of the business. It’s used by management to analyze the efficiency of their business and is a series of tasks or methods that are put into practice to create the desired result. A procedure, on the other hand, relates to how a task or method within a process needs to be done. A procedure is much more detailed than a process, as it includes the exact instructions on how the team member is supposed to carry out the job.
At a glance, the two might seem confusing, as they both refer to the same activities being carried out. So simply stated, you can look at the difference between a process and a procedure as “what” versus “how.”
Although that is conceptually how processes and procedures work into a team effort, the next step is to put them in writing so that everyone understands their part as a team member and how their tasks and duties work for the betterment of the entire company and the benefit of all concerned.
In a past career, I was asked by my new manager to show him the process and procedure manual for my department. I kind of stumbled around my words, saying that we really didn’t have things in writing, but we basically all knew what to do and that we were a well-oiled machine. Ha! Well, he didn’t take that as a good answer and asked that I create a process and procedure manual describing each position, their duties, and how tasks are performed. Then he left my office!
Holy cow, now what? So, I called my team members in one by one and we started writing processes and procedures for everything. What a daunting task! After a couple of days of overwhelming my team with this new task while they kept up with their daily duties, I heard the grumbling. This was going to take a lot of time and effort to create a manual quickly. As a young executive, I didn’t question my boss, as I knew having this manual would help me manage the team and give them more structure as well, but I never asked when it was due; I just assumed he meant right away.
A couple of days later, he once again stopped by my office and asked how it was going. With my usual positive attitude, I said, great! I guess he could see it in my eyes that we were struggling with it. He smiled and said, “You know you don’t have to do this all at once; just take it day by day.” And he went on to describe a process and procedure on how to develop a process and procedure manual. (Go figure!) He said two things that always stuck with me to this day.
- Get your team involved in taking notes of things they do throughout the day; situations that come up and how they dealt with it.
- Then, meet with them each day to discuss what happened, how it was handled, and how it might be improved. These notes and discussions will then produce processes with detailed procedures after a final analysis.
The next step was to take these processes and write up the details of how each task within the process should be conducted, keeping in mind best practices and beneficial outcomes. Day by day, we kept accumulating processes and procedures, polished them, and within a couple of months’ time, we had a process and procedure manual. It was always a work in progress with additions and adjustments to the manual, yet once we had the basics and the baseline, the rest kept falling into place.
It is very important to get input and involvement from the team members as to how they think the process and procedure should be so that they know that their opinion matters.
As an example, in our industry, let’s discuss the typical service call as a process and procedure. An overall name for this process might be “Service call from curb to collect” and in writing may look something like this:
Service call process – The technician prepares for the call with the proper dispatch information and professional appearance. A proper meet-and-greet and conversation at the thermostat will transition into the diagnostic stage to determine the cause of the problem, and solution options are presented to the homeowner so they can choose what best fits their budget and needs.
Service call procedure – The technician will wear a clean uniform, which may include changing shirts from a previous call, hair combed, and clean-shaven. Park your truck on the street and ask the homeowner if the truck location is okay since you don’t want to block an exit or get any fluids on the driveway. Introduce yourself with the proper company introduction and ask the homeowner to lead you to the thermostat. Ask investigatory and inquiry questions at the thermostat and take notes. Transition to the diagnostic stage with your personalized scripted transition statement and question. Conduct a full and complete diagnostic while involving the homeowner. Give the homeowner three options that involve:
1) What they must do to get the system back up and running
2) What they should also do to prevent it from happening in the future
3) Lastly, what they could do with additional accessories (IAQ) to enhance the performance of the equipment that will produce other benefits to the homeowner.
Let the homeowner choose the best option for them, complete the paperwork, and collect the money for the chosen option. Thank the homeowner for the opportunity to service them and return to your truck for a debrief with dispatch.
By following the day-by-day process and procedure creating method described above, everyone in each department will have a set plan with a track to run on, which will substantially minimize the blame game.
Here is how you know that you will need written processes and procedures:
- If you have to ask, then you need them
- If you don’t have them, then you need them
- If you hear things from team members like, “I do it like this” or “I believe we do it this way” or “I think we should do it like this,” then you need them.
- When these “I’s” turn into “We” do it this way, then you know you’re getting somewhere!
Highly successful companies don’t just happen. Everyone in every department must know their role and how it helps everyone else with their jobs in other departments. You can’t have workplace silos that don’t communicate with others. When everybody is on the same page singing out of the same hymnal, teamwork becomes fun and rewarding. Processes and procedures are the basis, while execution and accountability are the keys to a successful and enjoyable TEAM EFFORT!
Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions
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April 7, 2021