Employee Procedures that Work: Go to the front lines

As any business executive knows, it’s one thing to create an employee procedure and it’s an entirely separate thing for employees to follow that procedure. Some people may be quick to blame the employees when procedures aren’t followed, but more often than not, it has more to do with how the procedure is communicated and implemented. You’ve probably heard the old adage that “every problem is a management problem.” Well, it’s true.

We have policies in place to hire the right people and train them well, so we are confident in our organization. On top of that, we know that people want to do good work. They want clear rules and they want them implemented fairly and consistently. So, we recognize the importance of carefully creating effective procedures and then following through with effective implementation. We know that it’s our responsibility to make this happen.

I’d like to share some of the steps we take to ensure that we are creating the right procedures and that these procedures are then followed effectively by our employees. These steps fall under five guidelines:

  1. Go to the front lines
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  3. Make it real
  4. Automate enforcement
  5. Stick to your guns

This blog covers the first guideline:

Go to the front lines:
Ask your employees for input

Again, we want to make sure we are creating the right procedures. The most knowledgeable people are the ones actually doing the jobs that will be impacted by the procedures. So, we elicit employee input before deciding on new procedures.

We hire smart people.
They are likely to push back on a policy that doesn’t make sense to them. So, we involve them in the process. We ask for input from strategically selected employees. Then, and this is important, we LISTEN! The only thing worse than arbitrarily creating procedures without employee input is asking for their input and then not using it.

We’re open to adjustments.
Once the policy is in place, we continue to encourage feedback. We pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t. We know that it’s not always best to continue pushing a procedure because it’s been decided, but rather we stay open to tweaking the procedure when it makes sense.

Note though that if we tweak the procedure, we’re careful to stick with the guidelines for the change. It needs to be communicated and enforced consistently, just like the original procedure.

We have a culture of respect.
In order for this to really work, we know it’s important to have a culture of respect in which our executives truly value the employees’ input and recognize that they are our best assets in figuring out the best way to implement change.


Do you have any stories about implementing new procedures and how you elicited employee input? Or any lessons learned from a procedure that would have benefited from employee input earlier in the process? I’d love to hear your stories or comments below.

3 Comments on “Employee Procedures that Work: Go to the front lines

  1. Pingback: Employee Procedures that Work: Communicate, communicate, communicate | Thomas Michael Live

  2. Pingback: Employee Procedures that Work: Make it real | Thomas Michael Live

  3. Create cross functional teams that will be responsible for using the new procedure or will be directly affected by the use of the procedure and get their input as to how things are done now (as is). Allow them to give input on how it can be improved which places them on the ground floor of creating the new procedures with the employees in mind. Keep the SME Subject Matter Expert on the team as the procedures take shape which creates ownership and the desire for the procedure to be successful. The SME helps take the fear and resistance out of the rollout and becomes the advocate and possible trainer for the other employees.

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