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New Year’s resolutions

New Year's resolutions for process improvement

Reading time: about 7 min

It's that time of year again when people make resolutions to be healthier, happier, and more productive. But resolutions aren't just for individuals. If you want the teams at your organization to be stronger, why not set a New Year's resolution to make process improvements that will keep your company competitive?

Every organization follows processes, whether big or small, but few take the time to spell them out. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by BP Trends Report, a mere 4% of companies say they always document their processes, while 53% never or only occasionally do. And that's a problem. Because organizations that don't know their processes can't determine if they're successful—or change them if they're not.

Bad processes can lead to inefficiencies, employee burnout, and customer dissatisfaction. But good processes can enhance productivity, engage your team, and create products that ensure customer loyalty and business success. Investing in your company's processes might seem like a big task, but it pays dividends. 

Below are some New Year's resolutions you can make to ensure process improvements and start the year off on strong footing.

Team resolutions 

A company is only as good as its teams—and processes can only work when individuals understand, agree to, and feel inspired by them. Here are some key ways to ensure that your processes are helping your team members to do their work productively and with purpose.

Onboarding new team members quickly 

Nothing shows the strengths or weaknesses in your work processes quite like bringing in a new member. Your company's onboarding process reveals critical aspects of your organization's process, from who has what knowledge to how that knowledge is stored and shared.

Most companies adopt ad hoc processes over time, and fail to clearly spell out who is in charge of which parts of the process or to document how the organization's processes are communicated. These companies do not keep a centralized bank of information with all the information a new employee needs to plug and do their job. Instead, they rely on existing employees to show new employees the ropes. This process can lead to inefficiencies and a lack of clarity for new employees, and is especially tricky when some employees work remotely. Ultimately, it's risky and ineffective to have all the knowledge of a company's processes reside in the heads of certain employees, because when those employees leave, the knowledge leaves with them.

Instead of an ad hoc onboarding process that depends on certain employees communicating informal processes and expectations, resolve to create a centralized, documented record of company roles, processes, and expectations that new employees can refer to when starting their new positions. This will allow new team members to hit the ground running and feel engaged and productive from the start.   

Giving everyone a chance for their input to be heard 

Even the best-laid plans and processes won't work if your team refuses to adopt them. To get buy-in on new processes, it's critical to solicit feedback from the people who will be using them. 

You can start by asking for feedback on existing processes. Try starting with a small, daily process that everyone uses and work your way up to the bigger ones. Get feedback from as many people as you can on the process—from team members to managers. The more people you have responding to the processes, the greater the perspective you'll have on what is and isn't working. Plus, people will feel valued and know that their opinions matter, which will increase the likelihood that they'll adopt the new processes going forward.    

More team alignment 

Once you've resolved to improve your team processes, make another resolution to bring your team into alignment on how they'll use these processes to do the most efficient and purposeful work to achieve team goals. 

Involve your team in the whole course of redesigning your processes. Include them in mapping out how existing processes work, what could be improved or eliminated, and what processes would work better. Once you've created your new processes, be sure to communicate with each team member so they know the new expectations and how the new processes will affect their roles. 

Use technology to visually document workflows, roles, and expectations. You can use features such as project management timelines and virtual whiteboards to spell out your team's processes. You can also use communication maps to diagram out who is in charge of what duties and who should reach out to whom for guidance.

Don't forget to schedule frequent one-on-ones to get continual feedback from employees using your new system. This will especially help team members working in hybrid work environments and ensure everyone feels heard and is on the same page.

Efficiency resolutions 

Now that your team's clear on roles and aligned on goals, it's time to create processes that make work lean and efficient.

Remove bottlenecks 

To determine how well your existing processes are working, try creating a process map. A process map visually captures how your processes work, giving you a bird's-eye view of who does what when, and how.

Once the process map is complete, your team can look it over and evaluate how well things are working, identifying redundancies and bottlenecks as well as what's working. It also helps to determine how long each task currently takes, and what could be done to improve efficiency. 

After you've created and evaluated your process map, you can set new goals and make new workflows to streamline your processes and create greater efficiency.  

Increase ROI of a process 

Everyone on your team wants a good return on the work they're putting in every day.  Even the best processes won't help if you don't know what your goals are. So to get the most bang for your buck, make sure your team is clear on what their objectives are and why. Do you want to increase sales? Create a new product? Beat last quarter's revenue? 

After you determine your goals, decide how you'll measure success—and then measure again and again. Testing and evaluating your processes gives you real information on whether you're reaching your goals. If you're not, it's time to go back to the drawing board and tweak your process and make improvements, from reassigning roles to investing in training or new technology. 

Cut out busywork by automating parts of the process 

Your team members bring valuable skills to their jobs. Don't make them spend their limited resources on tasks that a machine could do. According to a McKinsey report, roughly 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that could be automated. Instead, those tasks are being done by employees, leading to burnout, lowered productivity, and a decrease in employee engagement. 

Turn those inefficiencies on their head by using technology to do your team's busywork, streamlining processes and allowing your employees to do what they're best at.

Documentation resolutions 

Once you've set your New Year's resolutions to make process improvements, it's critical to document those goals so your team actually achieves them. Here are some simple ways to make sure all your good work isn't lost in translation.

Create a shared library of process documentation 

You've identified ways to improve your processes and do better work, faster. Now it's time to capture those goals and document new processes so that everyone is working together toward a common, clear objective.

One of the best ways to make sure everyone is on the same page is to put everything on the same page—in a shared library where everyone can access the plans, steps, and processes they'll use in their work going forward. Creating a shared library helps existing employees know what team expectations are and who to reach out to for help. It also helps new employees to onboard more quickly, and have a clear idea of what they need to do and how. And it helps team members in hybrid work settings, as well, ensuring that everyone has the same information whether they're on site or not.

Document processes visually in Lucidchart 

Brainstorming, documenting and implementing new processes doesn't have to be a heavy lift. It can even be enjoyable, bringing your team together to find the best solutions to everything from bottlenecks to communication breakdowns. 

To help your team brainstorm and create new processes, use Lucidspark, a virtual whiteboard, capturing everyone's ideas in a clear, visually compelling way. After you've selected the best ideas and processes from your brainstorm session, use Lucidchart to create workflows, process maps, and communication plans to document the process visually. 

New Year’s resolutions

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