Employee Procedures that Work: Automate enforcement

After creating a new procedure and before rolling it out, it’s best to create systematic monitoring and reporting to check for compliance. When we roll out a new procedure, we plan ahead of time for systematic monitoring to ensure the tools are in place from the beginning. A new procedure is somewhat like a product launch in that it’s important to get it right the first time. Otherwise, employees can become confused or frustrated.

Monitoring processes with systematic reporting and enforcement ensures fair accountability for your employees.

This post is the fourth in a series that covers guidelines for implementing procedures that work. The first three covered eliciting input from employees, emphasizing communication, and making it real with documentation and training. The fourth guideline is about making things easier and more successful at the same time.

Automate enforcement: system-generated reports and alerts

Process automation is not a new topic. We all know that it lowers costs and improves reliability. The same is true when it comes to policy enforcement: automate the process for better results. But the “better results” in this case is perhaps even more important than processes that ultimately serve our customers or clients–because better results reward our best employees and make accountable those that might not be keeping up.

When you automate enforcement you ensure two key things for procedure implementation success:

1. Fair treatment across the board.

We know our quality assurance managers don’t pick favorites, but humans are prone to human error. They can inadvertently catch one person who’s not adhering to a new policy while missing another who’s doing the exact same thing. While the mistake is innocent, the ramifications can be significant. At worst, our employees may think they’re being purposely singled out. At best, they may get irritated at the unequal consequences. When we automate reporting and notifications to our managers, they can be sure to treat all employees fairly because they see the full picture in one place.

2. Timely notifications of non-compliance.

Humans also can’t be sure to catch problems right away. It’s unreasonable to expect unless you have one person whose full-time job is to play “Procedure Monitor” on each procedure. That’s not practical and it’s certainly not the best use of your money. When reports are automatically generated in real-time or perhaps on a daily schedule, non-compliance is identified in a predictable fashion and can be dealt with systematically. Timely notifications can help with employee satisfactions as well as the success of the procedure’s intended purpose.

Again, these are not new ideas. Automation has been around a long time and we don’t have to argue its effectiveness. The key point here is to remember that automation for processes that serve your employees is just as important as automation for processes that help your employees serve your customers.

Have you seen improvements from systematically monitoring procedures? Do you have automated reporting for procedure compliance checks? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

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