As a Human Resources professional, you hear complaints about employee
productivity. Many productivity issues aren't
controllable by the employee: Lack of tools on a timely basis, poorly
designed work flow, inefficient work environment, and bad software to name a
few. Occasionally the employee is just plain lazy.
As a Human Resources professional, you know how to handle such situations
legally and with minimum risk of litigation.
And sometimes productivity is controllable by a good, industrious
employee. She'd be more productive, if only she knew how.
This is a
training issue, but what kind of training? Good news: It's often low hanging
fruit. All that's necessary is for the employee's tasks to be described as
a process. Read on...
Humans are more productive when they follow a process. If an activity
is defined in terms of a process, people find that activity easier to
master. Even if an activity varies each time it's performed (invention
would obviously be one such activity), the more of it can be defined in
terms of a process, the more productive people become at that activity.
A process shouldn't be viewed as cast in concrete. Sometimes the
activity performer needs to go back to a previous step or branch out
and do something not currently defined in the process. That's OK, to
the extent that it doesn't create a safety concern or gross financial
Process is the template by which we humans complete our accomplishments.
Who's This Steve Litt Guy?
I'm an authority on process, or at least one specific process: The Universal Troubleshooting Process
My troubleshooting course was originally based on four tools, but when
I expressed the same principles as a ten step process, acceptance and
Having mastered one process, I read books on generic problem solving,
Root Cause Analysis, Theory of Constraints, and sales. I've learned that
process is the key to productivity.
Humans understand process!
See For Yourself
Don't take my word for it. Look at your own life in Human Resources.
There's a specific process for firing someone. Another specific process
for hiring them. One might argue that these activities are
process-oriented for legal reasons. So let's consider other activities.
When you need to update a manual, do you just sit down and start
typing, or do you use a process? Do you decide what needs to be said,
and then perhaps put it in an outline, and then decide in which manual
it belongs and where to put it in that manual?
When you converse with an employee, do you use a process? Do you start
with small talk to put them at ease? Do you look for ways to balance
constructive criticism with praise? Do you end with a list of action
items and buy-in from the employee?
The next time you attend any kind of training, see if the
instructor puts it in the context of one or several processes. If so,
write them down, and after class ask yourself why the instructor chose
those steps in that order. Ask the instructor too. If the instructor
didn't present it as a process, try to translate the material into a
process, and see if it makes it more understandable.
Start being aware of what you do, and ask yourself whether you're
following a process. Ask yourself whether you could improve the
process, and if so, how.
Process is a lot like policy. It can be overridden if necessary, but
it's a darned good start, and saves a lot of thrashing about on tasks repeated over and over.
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