Here Is A Way To Get Things Done Right The First Time, Every Time|
It's spring and in my part of the world and that means an
abundance of water. Melted from ice and
snow and delivered by relentless rains, water is everywhere. Motionless water is standing in low pastures,
puddled in driveway potholes and trapped in my leaky rubber boots.
There is water in motion as well: trickling, flowing or
roaring toward larger bodies of water. Nature
sees to it that water stays in motion without instructions. It goes wherever gravity chooses to send it. Natural flow for water is easy to see and
understand; it's downhill and usually along an obvious, well carved path.
Ideally, the work in your business should have natural flow to it just like running
water, resistance free along a clear path.
But in many businesses, work flows like ketchup from a bottle.
Following inverted shaking, taps and slaps, the ketchup bottle temporarily
spurts and drips an appeasing amount, very similar to the way some employees
respond to the boss's instructions.
Workers (assistants, volunteers, family) often have difficulty
maintaining work flow because the path, that is what to do next and how to do
it, is unknown. They're trapped like
water in a low spot in a field, waiting for a drainage ditch for guidance.
Sure, you've told them, more
than once, in different ways when and how to do things. But, most likely the instructions you gave
were in your own concise language. You
see the problem with your concise language is that it's too concise, lacking
details and only presented in one way and in your style.
Consider your assignment of the task: sweep the barn. You have the mental image of a swept barn and
it's done according to your standard.
The recipient of the order is now faced with many decisions:
into stalls or into a shovel or out the door?
the feed and tack rooms, too?
much sweeping, rough, medium or squeaky clean?
behind trunks and under mats?
about horses cross-tied in the aisle in my way?
does the broom get stored when done?
The process of sweeping, simple at first glance, is filled
with decisions. The other work tasks in
your business require decisions too:
Feeding hay, turnout groups, when to blanket, how often to check water
buckets and scrub, greeting customers, cleaning tack, taking messages, fueling
the tractor, filing receipts, loading the trailer for the show and so on.
about work and how to do it by the owner, guarantee inconsistent performance in
job completion by the employee.
Well defined expectations in the form of an operations manual for your business
will help communicate the order in which to do work and the steps necessary to
WAIT, before you
stop reading, an operations manual doesn't have to be difficult to produce!
Be easy on yourself and your employees, construct the manual
one part at a time. Start with feeding,
or stall cleaning or cleaning tack.
Begin with a notepad and take notes on the process and what's
important. Use your digital camera to take photos of what a clean stall looks
like, the right level of bedding to maintain in the stall and the image of a
rack full of clean bridles with sparkling bits.
The photos will save hours of writing and explain certain
parts of operations more easily than words.
Draw on the photos if that helps explain. Don't go to extreme details at first.
Describing eleven ways to operate a rake in the barnyard may
be overkill. Add detail, or better yet, have
your employees add detail as they analyze the process.
Operations manuals are often associated only with large
corporations like McDonalds, Starbucks or Wal*Mart.
Small businesses have less room for error than large
corporations; lean with employee numbers by economic necessity, there are no extra people in small businesses to
pick up the slack for low productivity.
An operations manual is the basic support for a system to
allow work to flow like water on a
clear path. Your development of systems for
your business will help:
Let me know your results.
conflicts between employees
consistency in quality of work done
the completion of work
training time for new hires
worry while you're out of town
|Others Have Said |
"Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy
some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up,
don't buy it." --Will Rogers
achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation"--Charles Kettering
"If you have to have a policy manual, publish the Ten Commandments"-- Robert Townsend
Back At The Barn
After a quiet
winter, I welcome the calls and songs of migratory birds as they return in
the spring. The red wing blackbird's call is a favorite.
However, the chatter of year round sparrows in the indoor is noise I can do without. Some days, they just get on my nerves.
Yelling shut up to sparrows in the indoor is about as effective as whispering whoa to a runaway.
But, for a split second, it always feels good.
I help professional horsemen and horsewomen struggling with the business half of the horse business. Not enough time, not enough money or not enough of the right people working for you?
Is your horse boarding business unprofitable?
Contact me to see if I can help.
Until next time,