5 Steps to Ensuring Process Enables Not Stifles

Organizational structure implies and demands process. We organize ourselves through adherence to rules. We are taught to comply through these official rules. It brings accountability and a safety net for employees who are afraid to mess up.

Strict adherence to processes can however stifle creativity and create a culture where we focus on the tasks not the underlying objectives.  We go throughout the day ticking the tasks off our list instead of working towards our goals.

Here are some thoughts on how we can encourage people to use process to enable them to be smart about the way they work versus resenting their list of tasks to get through.

  1. Before you hand a person a task list, ensure they understand the objectives behind the tasks. What are they trying to achieve? What does success look like? How does each task contribute towards that success? Who are the stakeholders? Who do they need to work with?
  2. Ask them to participate in structuring the process. This will empower them, give them a sense of ownership and control, allow them to incorporate the tools and processes that fit their learning styles and show you how well they understand the task.
  3. Make it understood that the task list is part of a fluid process. It is not rigid or inflexible. Concentrating on the objectives and understanding the route to success will allow the flexibility to shift focus, direction and to trouble shoot when necessary.
  4. Trust them to do the job. If the objectives are clear, and the process is set to enable, then empowering them to make decisions is much easier to do.  This does not mean you do not support them. Having an open door policy and being available to answer questions is part of the process. It is far better to have someone ask the right questions than have people second-guessing themselves.
  5. Measure and report against objectives and how close you are to reaching those objectives. Incorporate in that measurement process where the roadblocks to success are and where gaps are appearing. This will allow a refocus and re-evaluation of process. Tick off the objective milestones, not the individual tasks.

How do you structure your process? What works for you? What does not work for you?