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Process Makes Perfect

Imagine for a second that you’re learning to ride a bike for the very first time. You’ve taken the training wheels off. You’ve got your mom, dad, whomever, holding onto the seat to make sure you’ve got your balance. And the next thing you know, they let go and you’re going on your own. Each pump of your legs propels you further and further away. Until you lose your balance and you fall down, that is. Sure it probably hurts for a second, and you may scrape your knee, but all-in-all, you’re okay. You don’t let one tumble keep you from getting back on the bike to try again, so you get back on and eventually, you’re pedaling all on your own, with no help and (more importantly) no wipeouts. It took practice, a lot of patience, and the determination to keep trying even though you’ve failed, but you did it.

With that mindset, take a look at the team you work alongside every day. Are you working as a cohesive unit or is there one person really running the show and the rest blindly following? If you and your team are struggling to communicate, or if your workflow seems to be bottle-necking at certain points throughout your projects, it may be time to re-evaluate your processes. Changing steps that are already in place (and may have been for years), and learning something new is a lot like learning how to ride a bike. You’ll need a lot of support, a lot of practice, and you may have to put up with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

And if you think your organization is running like a well-oiled machine, break out of your “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” mindset and take a look at three soft skills you need to master through when working on perfecting your team’s processes.

Communication --

This isn’t going to be a one-man show, ya’ll! Start by gathering different members of your team together and have a serious conversation with them about what the main steps are going to be to get your project from point A to point B. Getting your teammates involved in the discussion eliminates the possibility of leaving a step out and helps give everyone a more in-depth understanding of a person’s role. Research shows that we can spend as much as 80% of our time communicating, so you better make the most of that 80%. Spending that quality time talking with different members of your team across different departments early on can make or break the success of your blossoming game plan!

Plus, having quality communication with your group means that everyone is always in the loop about what is going on. No “I just heard it through the grapevine” here!

Compromise --

My mom always told me when I was little “the world doesn’t revolve around you, you know…” The same sentiment holds true when you’re working within your team (remember that whole ‘there’s no I in team’ thing?). Whether modifying your processes requires changing to a new software or rearranging job titles, new things always seem SO scary. Naturally, we want to stick with what we know and what we’re comfortable with. The reality is, what works best for you may not be in the best interest of somebody else, but in order for your team to work as efficiently as possible, it’s important to meet somewhere in the middle. Meeting in the middle not only ensures that everyone is happy, but can also provide the best solution to a potential problem.

Accountability --

For a new process to work, you have to put it into practice. Sure, you can set up an array of “tests”, but nothing will equate to working on a real project in the real world. Be prepared: It’s not going to work perfectly the first day, and that’s okay. The more you work through it, the more you’ll be able to analyze where the shortfalls lie. But to do this, you have to hold your team accountable for following the steps you all worked so hard to put into place. Of course, different people are going to complete tasks differently, but if they completely ignore your newly established process, all of your efforts have been for naught. Even more importantly, you run the risk of steps getting missed, information getting lost, or mistakes.

When giving your processes a facelift, you’re not going to get it right the first time. Remember our bike example from the beginning?

As you make strides in a new direction, remember that your team is going to have your back. But sometimes you’re going to fall, and there are times when it’s going to hurt. Regardless, you have to be just as resilient now as you were at six learning how to ride your bike–keep getting back up and keep trying. Every failure you encounter will come with a change to the process, and with every tweak, you’re propelling yourself towards a seamless workflow. It just takes a whole lot of practice and determination, and a little bit of discomfort that comes from breaking out of your comfort zone. Now go get ‘em!!
Courtney profile picture
Written By
Courtney Bravo
Published
September 30, 2019
References
https://extension2.missouri.edu/cm150
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