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Communicating Your Workflow

FastTrac, Kauffman Foundation

Your company's documented workflow will show the processes that give the company life. Since team members have their own work responsibilities, they need to understand how their job contributes to and aligns with the overall company workflow as well as its vision and goals. They need to understand the expectations you place on them to complete their work tasks. They also need to be given the appropriate resources to get the job done. Looking at workflow from their point of view can help you create a cohesive, productive work environment. Several actions can contribute to this cohesion including writing job descriptions, developing performance standards, conducting performance reviews, staffing appropriately, and designing controls.

Write Job Descriptions

Job descriptions outline the staff's abilities and tasks necessary to carry out the business plan. Having descriptions in place for each and every position helps the business retain the best person for the job and maintain professional files. These descriptions not only streamline the workflow but also simplify the hiring process.

Develop Performance Standards

Once the job descriptions are in place, it is important to break down the duties of each position into measurable action steps that can be quantified. If a team member knows in advance what is expected, how correct performance of that expectation will be measured, and how it ties back to the strategic goals of the business, the likelihood that the performance will be successful will be increased significantly.

Conduct Performance Reviews

Performance evaluations should be conducted on a regular basis to reinforce good work or to correct behavior if a team member's performance is off track. You can design separate performance standards for daily functions and special assignments or projects. Some organizations schedule these reviews quarterly and use this formal process to develop their team. In any case, you'll want to also give employees feedback frequently through less formal meetings.

The performance standards for individuals can be documented in the human resources files. Standards for the daily functional responsibilities may not require changes unless functions change. Special assignments and projects, however, will require regular updates as projects come up and are completed. Human resources consulting companies can help you establish policies and procedures related to human resources issues and assist with the interpretation of human resources law.

Staff Appropriately

A monthly staffing plan provides a roadmap for businesses to determine if they are appropriately staffed. In order to succeed, businesses often require that a few people perform several different roles. Keep in mind that adding personnel is a significant investment and responsibility.

One strategy that may prove helpful is to tie added personnel to specific projects that generate an income stream. In this way, at least part if not all of their salary expense is covered through the added revenue. Make sure you realize profit in the numbers to make the project worthwhile. You don't want your business to become a pass through for someone's salary. After all, the object of business is to make money, profitably.

Design Controls

Controls are either administrative or financial. Administrative controls deal with the operation of the business and the quality of the product or service. Financial controls deal with accounting for the business operation. Controls, when adequately enforced, can help you save time and money.

With all the advantages that controls can have on business operations, there can be some disadvantages, too. Sometimes, too many checks and balances make it difficult to complete the job efficiently, are very costly to maintain, and can produce low morale among employees. Care must be taken to establish controls that are necessary without constricting the actual work flow. Clear communication of the controls and how they relate to the overall company goals will also help make them effective.

© 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.

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