The Classic Customer Problem:
Businesses come to us over and over again with the same problem: the tasks carried out within their organisations every day aren’t documented.
Let’s take a look at an example. Bill has been the main operator of a particular machine for 20 years. Only Bill has the expertise required to fully operate and troubleshoot the machine. Subsequently, when other staff members operate the machine they are not able to do so efficiently. They do not produce as much product, they generate more waste, and they often rely on Bill for assistance, impeding his ability to effectively complete other tasks.
Bill has not been able to effectively communicate his knowledge to the younger and newer members of the team. Bill isn’t a trainer and when he tries to communicate information to these newer, younger members there are a number of communication problems. Sometimes it is as if Bill and the younger team members were speaking two different languages altogether.
Bill, however, does not own his specialised knowledge of the machine that he operates. The business does. He acquired the knowledge while working for them, in their environment, on their machine.
The situation is highly problematic, especially considering that Bill is getting older. The business always fears his requests for annual leave, and is made even more nervous by the fact that Bill is considering retirement in the upcoming years. While management does not want to offend Bill they do feel it is important to record the information in a manner that allows it to most effectively communicated and utilised in order to meet organisations performance goals.
The business also recognises that older employees like Bill tend to stay in jobs longer. In contrast, the younger members of today’s workforce change jobs much more frequently. Because of this higher turnover rate businesses need to transmit information to new and younger employees quickly and efficiently in order to maintain required production levels. Ensuring that all staff members have both the information and tools necessary to perform their day-to-day tasks is vital in maintaining a measurable and sustainable workforce.
How can the business secure this crucial knowledge before Bill retires? How can the business use this knowledge to maximise production? How can they ensure that it can be used to effectively train other employees in order to prevent drops in production when Bill is on leave?
How Can We Fix This Problem?
The way to fix this problem is to foster employee buy-in. Employee buy-in occurs when employees understand the mission of the company for which they work. They understand and are committed to the goals of the company and are dedicated to the success of the company. Employees who buy-in to their company tend to feel that their work has a meaning and a purpose. They are typically engaged with the company and are willing to go that extra mile– they care about getting their work done and they care about getting it done well.
Employers need to actively work to promote employee buy-in. To build this buy-in managers need to make sure that employees understand how their work contributes to the goals and mission of the company. Perhaps most importantly, a crucial part of promoting employee buy-in is ensuring that all important company knowledge, information, and procedures are documented. This ensures that employees have all of the necessary information to succeed and also helps employees see how specific tasks are directly related to company goals.
However, the buy-in process can be a bit tricky, especially when it comes time to ask employees to document their specialised knowledge. It is very common for companies with employees with specialised knowledge like Bill to approach the employee and ask him or her to document what he or she does on a day-to-day basis. This approach has a number of associated risks. First and foremost, this process often takes a considerable about of time. Secondly, this process often yields documents that are either inaccurate or are ineffective for a number of different reasons:
- Employees fear redundancy or replacement when they are asked to document their business knowledge.
- Employees are often daunted by requests from internal management, feeling overwhelmed and intimidated.
- Oftentimes, an employee’s familiarity with and closeness to a topic will hinder their ability to adequately explain it. The employee will frequently miss the vital steps, thinking of them as “common sense.” However, not everyone will innately know automatic steps. It might seem obvious to flick on the power switch before using the machine but how would a new, inexperienced person even know where to find the switch?
- Companies frequently use office staff to interview knowledgeable staff and document processes. Not only is this time consuming but the technical aspect and requirements can’t be properly validated by someone who doesn’t fully understand all of the details of the information.
- The internal review process of documents is often full of snags and delays due to a lack of a sense of urgency. This unnecessarily draws out the documentation process.
- Documents are never validated by a technical writer to ensure correct terminology, content consistency, and overall cohesiveness and coherence. Therefore while these documents take a significant amount of time and money to produce they oftentimes still fail to provide the company with the results it require.
How does DS TechWrite get around this?
- When an external entity approaches staff, it reduces the immediate threat. Our writers are not interested in taking the jobs of your employees and are therefore a neutral presence. They aren’t perceived as dangerous or intimidating.
- We understand and are prepared to manage any hesitation from the staff.
- Our writers all have technical backgrounds and know the right questions to ask, ensuring that no steps, even the small ones, are excluded from the documentation process.
- Our writers all hold advanced training qualifications. They make use of adult learning methodologies have a proven track record of success in training environments.
- We engage employees and solicit their participation throughout the data gathering and feedback stages to ensure the production of accurate, complete, and thorough instructions.
- We can secure your businesses knowledge, eliminating the risk that it will walk out the door. By securing this knowledge we can also create a positive, buy-in culture amongst your team to ensure future documentation of key knowledge, information, and processes.
Call today and ask to see our compatibility statement for details on our data gathering, documentation, review, and document finalisation processes. Our methodologies have a track record of success and ensure complete employee buy in during and after your documentation project. We assure that we help to embed buy-in within your company cultural so that you can use it as an asset that drives continued success within your business.