November 26th, 2019

As a business coach, one of the first things we help our clients do is create solid systems and controls to accelerate growth. We also share our tips and tricks to getting the entire team on board with using the systems put in place.

But what happens when your team only adopts bits and pieces of a particular system or process? How do you mitigate the damage and get the team back on track?

I recently spoke with one of our coaching clients, Bradley, who works in the outdoor advertising industry. They are responsible for the billboards that you see along the highway. They handle the zoning and permitting, and help design and produce the outdoor signs. Once that is complete, they will then execute a lease for the client giving them a set amount of time to advertise.

They were in the process of expanding, and had an advertising location 350 miles away from their headquarters. For several months now, they were sending crews back and forth to install the billboards as needed. Bradley and his team had created a system for the installation process, and felt confident in their ability to execute the installs off-site.

On the last install however, the team had missed several crucial steps in the install process. They thought they followed the system in place, but failed to check their work for errors. Ultimately leading to a bad install that could have easily been fixed the day of installation. When the client notified them of the issue, they had to fly a crew out at the last minute to make it right costing the company money and time.

They kept the client happy, but in their post-mortem they realized that the crew leader had followed part of the system but didn’t follow the full system.

Now, Bradley had a system in place which was a good thing. How then, could he prevent such an issue in the future?

1.Have a Really Solid System in Place.

A good system has to not only be accurate, but it has to be in a reasonable format. If it’s a twenty two page system, a really seasoned person isn’t going to use it. They will skim it on occasion, but small details will be lost over time and translation. Leading to the issues that Bradley experienced.

I would suggest having a longer version for new employees, and then an abridged checklist that can be used for those that have done the process over a period of time. And you also want to consider the way in which the system is packaged. A video walkthrough might be appropriate for a new staff member, but someone out in the field installing billboards wouldn’t’t have the bandwidth to use that format.

2. Encourage System Use, Company Wide

Another way that Bradley could prevent such an issue in the future, is by checking in with his staff members regularly to get their feedback on the systems in place and encourage adoption.

“Jean, you know we had an error rate of 5% on our billboard installs. Now that we have implemented the system that you helped created, we have been able to streamline the process and now have a 1% error rate. Not only is it making us more efficient, but we have been able to take on more jobs this quarter as a result. And no more early morning calls at 4:30 am from the crew! Which I know has made your life a lot easier. Great job!”

While no one likes to go back and re-do a job, this particular instance helped Bradley tighten up his systems and controls and will allow him to expand further in the months ahead.