To ensure your employees know their tasks and prioritize them properly, you must rely on standard operating procedures (SOPs) to create them. Once you communicate what an employee's expected duties are, you've completed step one of creating an accountable employee.
I walked through the exact steps to completing this in Assigning responsibility, accountability to your staff.
Now that you have created an established list of position tasks for each employee, the tasks can be identified from most to least important, with those that impact customers directly having the highest priority.
The next step is to make sure that all of these tasks are in the job description, they all bring added value to the process, there isn’t waste within the steps and there is an accountability component built in. Why? If the business is going to have assigned tasks by job description, each employee must be held accountable for getting the job done right and the first time. If not, you have a lot of words and no requirements. Establishing requirements is what is most important. The task is identified, the need is qualified, the responsibility is quantified and the performance is measureable.
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In some human resource circles, it could be said that you will also need to teach people how to use the devices that they will encounter in performing their tasks. Let’s assume that we’ve hired the correct person and all of the required skill sets are in place for the devices, systems and programs they will be working with.
This is a very important point to consider when hiring employees. Is the person being considered for hire able to perform the tasks that they will be assigned? Ask! If not, the business may be bringing a potential “problem” into the process. This is not a fault of the employee, but of management for not hiring properly. The potential employee should have a demonstrated ability to perform the tasks that are identified for their job description. Management can make accommodations in some cases or they may need to take a pass and move on to the next candidate.The SOPs are nothing more than a roadmap that, if followed, produce a desired result. So it is imperative that each step in the desired roadmap be clear, in order, eliminate waste
When building an SOP, the following sequence should be identified:
1. Identify the tasks needed to accomplish business goals
a. Who will perform the task?
b. What will be performed?
c. Where: which department will perform it?
d. When will it be performed?
e. Why “the business case”?
2. Segment the tasks into groupings that will be assigned to specific employee designations or job descriptions
a. The specific responsibility for compliance
b. Metal, Frame, Mechanical, Customer Service, Estimating, etc.
3. Create job descriptions that include tasks, goals, measurements and performance criteria making sure that the employee won’t be “over tasked”
a. How many tasks will be performed by each employee?
b. What are the specific roles and responsibilities by employee?
4. Have all devices, equipment, forms, electronic equipment operational and in place for employee use
a. Is all relevant equipment on site and operable?
b. Are all estimating, accounting and part-tracking programs up to date?
5. Create visual indicators such as status boards that will visually identify process within the tasks and SOPs so that there are no “surprises”
a. Are status boards in place and used to show progress?
6. Be sure that any training necessary for use of the process components is developed and more importantly provided to the staff during meetings, daily for production. It is essential that employees have clear expectations of what their work product should include and the measurements that will be used to confirm SOP or process compliance
a. Is training in place to ensure that compliance can be achieved?
b. Have measurement expectations and tools been identified?
7. Clearly communicate the requirements. That’s worth saying again: Clearly communicate the requirements. Why? So that there are no misconceptions about the expectations
a. Are all employees in receipt of written requirements?
b. Have their responsibilities been communicated?
8. Create a checkpoint document that can be viewed quarterly with the employee to provide feedback about their performance and any updates or changes to their job tasks or description
a. Have dates for meetings been established?
b. Have measurements, forms and other related topics been discussed?
SOPs are required to ensure that a specific set of business practices are followed and that the employee is adhering to them to keep customer service at the highest levels and the production processes as efficient as possible. All requirements for the job, whatever they are, and all of the tasks associated with them must be detailed if the employee is to be held accountable for their performance. It minimizes the “excuses” for poor performance. Always be sure that reviews are completed and that opportunities are provided to allow for continuous improvement. When the opportunity allows, have the employee complete a “self-assessment." These help management get “buy-in” for performance from the employee. Using a cell phone to record their performance is a great way for office staff to practice their customer service skills. Obviously the production staff is measured on their ability to perform repairs, estimators on estimate accuracy and other measurements tailored to the specific job description. The important thing is measuring. It’s key to the success of the store and ensuring that the SOP steps that have been painstakingly formulated are met.