Implementing Written Systems and Operations
By Jennifer Wolf-Pierson, CPACO
Written policies and procedures can control your vision and help to train, manage and build up your staff. But how can you make your SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) an effective and viable part of the day-to-day operations?
Listen, Empower and Engage
Ever overhear a team member say to a new employee, “this is how I do it”, instead of, “this is how we do it”? When you start hearing “I”, it’s either time to retrain and refocus the team on the procedures, or possibly rewrite the ones that are outdated or incorrect. Empower your team and let them know you depend on them to tell you if a written procedure isn’t working or is no longer relevant. Your processes are sure to change and evolve over time, and because of this, your team needs to be involved in adapting those procedures.
An engaged staff member will move things forward and raise issues for the betterment of the company and enjoyment of their position. A disengaged staff member ignores the process because it may be outdated or wrong, or never asks for clarification of the process. In other words, that person is walking briskly down the road of “I don’t want to!” This starts and ends with your company’s culture; no written SOPs can make up for lack of team buy-in.
During your weekly meeting (which I hope you all are having with at least the management staff), dig into your SOPs. Make a commitment to review and revise at least one of your SOPs a week. Much like your training process, have the team read the portion of that specific SOP, then ask them questions. First, do we do this process consistently? Second, what can we do to make this better for us and our clients? Take notes while the team discusses the policy or procedure. You may be surprised where the conversation leads. If you have a quiet crew, I have found that candy and caffeine always get people chatty!
Monthly Department Reviews
Inspect what is expected. Ask your managers to complete a Department Review monthly. These don’t need to be lengthy or complex, just consistent. We have simple checklists of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions with three categories per department: operations, service and training. Read the comments and track the failed items. If an item is consistently missed, it may be time to review, revise and retrain the topic.
No one is going to keep your dream alive if you’re not committed. It all starts and ends with the operator—so believe in your SOPs, believe in your people, and give! Give it your all and your team will see that you care. When you revisit and revise, they will jump on the bandwagon to help you. Step out of your role from time to time and get dirty with the team. I’m not saying you need to work a full shift as a lodging tech, but take 20 minutes, grab your SOP and get to work.
After our remodel ended in 2018, I was determined to keep the facility 100% spotless year-round. The team does a bang-up job, but our daycare nap rooms were looking grimy. I took our room cleaning procedure and set out to get the discoloration off the FRP panels. I went through our process, and used too much surfactant, which made a ton of bubbles (the team still jokes about that mix-up), but the FRP still looked discolored. Was it me or was it our procedure? Well, it was a little of both. Adjustment in the steps with an added new tool and our daycare rooms became bright white again. Had I just assumed that the team was not following what was expected and not tried it for myself, it would have taken much longer to find the best solution.
“If it is greatness you want, it is greatness you must give,”– Dr. Kevin Leman and Bill Pentak
The Way of the Shepard
Jennifer Wolf-Pierson, CPACO is a certified pet care professional serving the Spring/Woodlands/North Houston area. Since 2016, Jennifer has served as General Manager at ABC Pet Resort & Spa and coach for Suzanne and Al Locker’s Pet Care Facility Management Boot Camp. The Boot Camp program, in partnership with Turnkey. Inc., a design, build and consulting group, has helped a wide variety of businesses get on track, from start-up to maturity. For more information on Boot Camp or Turnkey, Inc., visit www.petcarebootcamp.com or www.turn-keyinc.com.