In today’s business environment the focus of our work is often centered on production, outcomes, and deliverables. We do whatever is necessary to yield results with minimal attention to detail. Documentation is one such area that often gets ignored despite its’ great impact on the overall success of the company.
In order achieve excellence, every business must develop strong practices for documentation and maintain high standards for the quality of these written records. Doing so will help to ensure the company’s longevity by safeguarding against various internal and external threats. Following are some of the most powerful ways documentation can save your business…and your brand.
1. TRACK OUTCOMES- The most effective way to determine the success of your business is to document your goals. Regardless of your industry, every company must be able to successfully account for what it’s doing and how well it’s doing it. Tracking outcomes allows for a careful analysis of your product/service and provides information that can be used to increase sales or exceed client expectation. Without it, you are merely a spectator in your own business working long hours without any real direction.
2. TRACK EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE- Not every individual you hire will meet your expectations. Many will struggle in their role within the organization requiring additional support or resources. Others may prove to be a liability for the business as a result of poor performance or a lack of professionalism. In these situations you will need documentation to show all the efforts you have made to help the employee succeed. You can track performance through supervision notes, yearly performance reviews, or performance improvement plans. All three of these options provide documentation that may be used to promote or terminate an employee who is not up to par. Trust me-when the time comes to fire your weakest link you will need documentation to back up your decision.
3. AVOID A LAWSUIT! – At some point or another every business will face the possibility of a lawsuit. Often these are filed by disgruntled employees or customers who didn’t get what they wanted out of you. They can also be the result of malpractice, fraud, or noncompliance with regulations. Proper documentation can save your business by providing information that can dispute false claims or clarify allegations made against you. It may seem like a waste of time but creating and maintaining written records of your processes and activities will save you both money and an unnecessary migraine.
4. CROSS TRAINING- What do you do when your strongest employee quits one day before a big presentation? Panic is not the answer. Cross training employees to do a different part of the organization’s work can help minimize infractions and other organizational disasters. To do this, your business must document all the various processes that are involved in executing the various projects or tasks assigned to individual team members. Cross training can be extremely helpful during a time of restructuring when you need others to step in during another employee’s absence. Without documentation, however, you will be stuck playing a guessing game that is sure to compromise the reputation of your business.
5. SET EXPECTATIONS- Your employees are your biggest investors! Every business must have a clear set of expectations for staff to follow. These must be documented and reviewed regularly with your team to ensure accuracy, understanding, and compliance. Want your employees to buy into your expectations? Have them contribute to this list buy sharing their ideas during a team meeting. Remember: employees are more likely to invest in your mission if they are included in the process.
Proper documentation is critical to the success of any business. If you are a manager or supervisor struggling in this area you may benefit from executive coaching. For a free consultation please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org