7 Process Pitfalls to Avoid: Become Friction-Free In Your Business

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I’ve had to learn these 7 lessons the hard way. I want you to avoid these 7 process pitfalls in your business so you don’t suffer like I have over the past 20 years.

Before we get into the juicy ideas, let me share a little story.

I worked with a company we’ll call Corner Mart. They hadn’t set standards for how people should communicate with each other. They were lean and mean. They had two locations in a large city. The owner, Barry, enjoyed the work but was getting overwhelmed. He was the central hub for all the systems.

Barry would teach the new employees his systems, but they often made mistakes. This friction caused a lot of people to become disheartened and leave his company.

He trained his employees well, but he was busy. He didn’t have time to follow up and check in with employees as often as he liked. This friction caused him to get help. He started by improving his SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). He knew that if he documented everything, his brain wouldn’t need to be at both stores at once.

We started with mapping out his processes and developing SOPs. We also created a simple communication standard that everyone should follow. Barry also realized that he was a bottleneck for his company. So, he put a process in place for both store managers to make a decision without him. This helped everyone get on board quickly. Within three months, they noticed that everyone was more productive, both stores increased sales, and people were happier. He also noticed turnover decreased by 15%.

This is the beauty of creating processes everyone understands and can reference if Barry isn’t around.

Making time to review your processes, document them, and begin making adjustments is how you can avoid process pitfalls in your business.

One of my favorite parts of working with a company is how they design their processes. I get to see under the hood of the company. If they document their systems, they often don’t have a system for reviewing and improving them.

Most business owners encounter friction in their productivity across several common areas. Identifying and addressing these areas can significantly enhance operational efficiency and overall business performance.

Here are some common key friction points:

1. Communication Breakdowns 

Poor communication is a major source of friction, leading to misunderstandings, errors, and delays. This includes unclear instructions, lack of feedback, and ineffective communication tools or channels. Develop a standard that people can follow to help them understand the importance of clear and responsive communication. For example, you might have rules for Slack, email, text, etc. What do people expect from each other, and what does “done” look like for the company?

This framework will ensure clear, concise, and consistent communication can mitigate these issues.

2. Inefficient Processes 

Outdated, cumbersome, or overly complex processes can severely hamper productivity. This might involve manual data entry where automation could be used, unnecessary steps in workflow processes, or a lack of integration between systems. 

Streamlining these processes through process improvement methodologies or technology can significantly boost efficiency.

3. Technology and Tool Misalignment 

Using the wrong tools or outdated technology can create significant friction. This includes software that doesn’t meet the team’s needs, lack of access to necessary tools, or systems that do not integrate well with each other. 

Investing in the right technology stack and ensuring tools are well-integrated can alleviate these issues.

4. Lack of Employee Engagement and Motivation 

Disengaged employees are less productive and can create bottlenecks in workflows. This can stem from a lack of clarity around roles and expectations, insufficient training, or a workplace culture that doesn’t value or motivate employees. 

Addressing these areas through clear communication, recognition, and opportunities for growth can enhance engagement.

5. Decision-Making Bottlenecks 

Centralized decision-making processes can slow down progress and create friction in productivity. This is what Barry experienced every single day. When employees have to wait for approval from top management for every decision, it can delay action and demotivate the team. 

Delegating decision-making authority and empowering employees can help speed up processes and improve responsiveness.

6. Lack of Clear Goals and Prioritization 

Without clear goals and priorities, teams can become unfocused and waste time on non-essential tasks. This lack of direction can lead to missed deadlines and opportunities. 

Setting clear, achievable goals and regularly reviewing priorities can help keep teams aligned and focused on what matters most.

7. Poor Time Managemen

Ineffective allocation of time, including meetings that run too long or are unnecessary, can significantly reduce productive work time. 

Implementing strict meeting agendas, reducing the frequency of meetings, and encouraging the use of time management techniques can help reclaim valuable work hours.

Addressing these friction points requires a proactive approach, including regular review of processes, open communication with teams about challenges and needs, and a willingness to invest in training, technology, and tools that support efficient work practices.

You can also take the Friction-Free assessment. This is valued at $950, but free to my subscribers who act soon. I will start charging for this service, so I would act now. You just join my Friction-Free email list, and you’ll get an email with the Friction-Free form (5 min). Then, after you fill out the form, we’ll schedule a 30-minute call.

Images:

Photo by Sandeep Singh on Unsplash

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