Why is your staff ignoring your systems?

Businesswomen making sticky notes

Are your systems being ignored?

Okay – everyone knows a business needs systems.  But what do you do when you have systems and they aren’t being followed?  Or when they are being blatantly ignored?

You go and find out why.  You ask.

There are many reasons why this might be happening.  Here are just seven.

1. The staff just doesn’t see the point.
Sometimes a system is put in for the sake of the system and not much else, or the reason is that the outcome has never been explained properly.  I once saw a system of the way toilet paper was put on the holder.  It was important to the owner, but the staff thought it was way too .. um .. detailed!

2. The system is too complicated.
When a systems gets complicated and convoluted, it generally means that it is actually a whole bunch of systems masquerading as one.  Try breaking it down into a flow chart and then looking at each box on the chart as a system in itself.  Or look at the outside systems that may be feeding into the system.  Simplify wherever you can.  Sometimes you can use checklists as part of a complex system to help people confirm they’ve done it all.

3. The system is too vague.
They don’t understand the result or the outcome and its relevance or importance.
Every system needs a stated objective or reason that it exists.  If there is no clear outcome, can you blame anyone for not taking it seriously?

4. They can’t be bothered.
If you have people with this attitude, you need to look carefully at why you hired them in the first  place, and why they are still there.  Why would anyone hire and pay people who can’t be bothered?  Maybe it’s time for them to move on to somewhere where they can be bothered, or to an employer who doesn’t mind paying people with that attitude.

5. There was no training for it.
Before you implement a new system, think about the best way to introduce it and get buy-in from the people who are going to be driving it

6. It’s never tracked or measured.
If no one cares about the end result, why bother to do it?  Track or measure the results and discuss them with those driving or operating the systems.

7. There’s no understanding of the ramifications of the systems not being followed.
If the system is important to the business, check in that people are aware of the impact when something is not done correctly, missed or late.  There is going to be an impact on their workmates, the clients or the business – or all three.  Talk it through with them.

Simply imposing systems on people rarely works.

Take the collaborative approach.

For example:

I’ve been looking at this and noticing that maybe we could do it better.  You spend a lot of time in this area, can we look at how we can improve it?

Work on it together.  When people have ownership they are far more willing to adopt it.

Until next time…

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