Rescued by ProcessBy Dave Sobel | Posted 2010-10-15 Email Print
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Documentation and process can get you out of hot water and make difficult situations easier, but you have to set them up to work that way.
I’m appreciating process a lot this week.
In a badly planned set of leave requests, my Service Manager was married to his (now) lovely bride on the same week that my V.P. of Sales is camping in Yellowstone. I’ll begin this by noting that I want my team to take their vacations, and I encourage them to be really away from the office when they are. This means we don’t call them or interrupt with items from the office.
It’s just a lot less fun for those of us in the office when they are both out of the office at the same time.
Allen, my Service Manager, runs the day-to-day operations of the service department. Ticket and workload management, escalation point for the engineers, customer relations, and managing a series of team meetings are all part of his regular routine. John, my V.P of sales, handles outbound and inbound sales, a number of our engagements into the business community, and is generally the man in charge of getting new business. He also performs a certain degree of account management, and he and Allen work together to ensure the customers are all happy.
With them both out, both of those roles have landed squarely on my shoulders. I can’t say I’m excited about this, as there is generally a reason I hire people for these roles. Besides feeling that it’s critically important that we have people handling these roles exclusively, it’s not where I would spend my time if I had the choice. I prefer to work on the business rather than in it.
Despite that, the step back into those roles has been rather easy, and besides crediting the fact that I have great engineers who are doing their part to keep the machine moving forward, what has made the vacation spell easier to manage is that both Allen and John handled their jobs according to our process.
Each item they were working on, be it a sales lead, proposal, service ticket, or quote, was logged. There is a logged activity for everything each had last done, and they had both left "next steps" for everything. In fact, my role has simply to sit in their "role", and just continue to process the workload as they did, with the recognized and documented process.
In fact, with this documentation, I’ve managed to close two proposals outstanding, follow up on several more, and pick up a complicated project that was left in the middle.
This focus on documentation and process means that individuals can step in and out of roles without long term impact to the business. By defining the role and its responsibilities, we ensure anyone in that position knows what to do and how to do it. This is how businesses grow and scale, and ensure consistency of service. Process is also critical to keeping a healthy life/work balance, ensuring that individuals have the ability to take time out of the business and enjoy a well deserved honeymoon or two weeks of hiking in the National Parks.
I’m looking forward to my own travel next week. I’m back out of those roles, and the process will continue without me. It’s worth every moment.