Business success often requires that you manage workflow effectively. This means allocating employees with varying skills to complete different tasks. Workflow refers to the sequence of processes (administrative, operational and otherwise) through which a task passes from the initiation to the completion stage.
Optimal workflow management ensures that employees work in situations where they are assigned to duties that match their natural abilities. When persons are forced on tasks that they don’t align with, then there’s a greater likelihood of job stress. Alternatively, if someone’s work duties fall below their skill level, then they will be bored, apathetic, and perform less than desired.
So, it’s essential that managers improve how they manage workflow. So, let’s consider the importance of workflow management and how your company can get better at it.
An Overview of How to Manage Workflow for Your Company
First, you’ll need to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of members of your team. You’ll need to also consider not only the natural strengths of your staff but your natural inclinations as well. This will help you to create the appropriate tasks and responsibilities for each team member.
Once you figure out everyone’s skills and passions, then everyone will be happier coming to work each day. So workflow management will help boost your organization’s productivity.
However, this is a tightrope act! You don’t want anyone to become too comfortable in their roles, because then boredom sets in. If anyone keeps doing the same tasks each day, they can lose interest. So, to keep everyone interested in their job functions, it’s important to build opportunities for variations within their daily tasks.
Change is never easy and making changes within your business can remove the comfort of familiarity. However, positive changes help everyone to feel more fulfilled in their careers. Improving how you manage workflow within your organization allows you to engage in appropriate risk-taking to enhance your business growth.
It’s important to not avoid difficult processes, as this is generally the way in which you will experience growth. Increased profitability means that you and your team members will need to take some risks. It’s the acceptance of these small and large risks that will help you and your team to find the right workflow. Oftentimes, taking the right risks leads to the rewards that you seek. So, get yourself and your team comfortable in taking risks.
Elements of Workflow Management
The process of managing your workflow usually involves automation, comprehensive documentation, delegation, and effective communication. These elements are vital for the efficient use of time and a reduced possibility of human errors. But, these elements themselves need to be well-defined and time-efficient.
Automation is particularly useful in the documentation process. This will avoid your team getting lost in the bureaucratic red tape of assembling these documents. You do not want your managers spending more time entering data, instead of analyzing this data and drawing vital insights for important decisions.
So, you should invest in productivity software and technologies that can help you automate tasks that give lower returns. For example, utilizing tools like 10to8 for appointment planning and Asana for project management will help everyone become more effective in their roles.
Choosing to implement such productivity tools will likely make a significant difference in helping you better manage workflow in your business. You can choose to take such automation on board by:
- Establishing an internal automation platform
- Purchasing an existing product that’s available on the market.
The first option means that your IT team could create a system with flaws and delays. This could lead to continual adjustments that keep disrupting your organizational workflow. However, purchasing an existing product means that it’s already proven and tested by previous companies using it.
Documentation and Delegation
Workflow management has many benefits which include providing comprehensive documentation and effective task delegation. Good documentation, especially the ones that document processes, help to onboard new staff as it gives them the requisite guidance. This documentation also increases overall productivity, as existing members have a reminder of the acceptable way to complete different tasks.
Effective task delegation means that all persons will know their assignments. Furthermore, they will know the deadlines for various projects so that they can plan accordingly. This entails:
- Mapping out the objectives that each team member needs to achieve in their projects
- Assigning each project/task to the person who best fits the task’s requirements
- Confirm that each member has a firm understanding of what’s expected of them
- Encourage accountability by having each person give regular updates at every phase of their assigned project(s)
Good communication is important when you manage workflow for your business. It’s important that you transmit the vision, missions, and goals of your company to all members of your team. There are some communication skills that you need to keep in mind whenever you communicate. You need to be:
- Self-Aware: This calls for a keen awareness of yourself. You should be aware of your inner monologue and emotions so that you can self-regulate. That way, you will communicate confidently and respectfully at all times. You also need to be aware of and effectively manage your non-verbal communication as well.
- Audience-Centric: You need to know your audience. Always know each audience’s motivations, preferred communication styles, and learning styles. Then, you need to adapt your message accordingly. Try to make genuine personal connections with your audience to put people at ease and gain trust.
- Brief: Too many words and information can bog down your team. Being brief will help you to immediately highlight what needs to be accomplished.
- Clear: Avoid unnecessary jargon. Effective communication is always easy for everyone to understand.
- Receptive: Communication is a two-way street. So, you should not only focus on giving information well. You also need to be an active and engaged listener. Give each person your full attention and ensure that there are no miscommunications. Keep an open mind and avoid knee-jerk reactions. Focus on building rapport with each engagement.
- Strategic: Every time you communicate with your team, you should have a clear goal in mind. Being strategic means knowing what and why you’re communicating, as well as the intended outcomes of each engagement.
- Credible: Your team members should be able to trust you. They need to know that there are no hidden agendas and that your word is your bond.
- Persuasive: Effective communication requires persuasion. To get support for your new workflow and other initiatives, you will need to convince others to see the merits of your company’s new system and procedures.
These skills combine to create an integrated communications workflow. This will help you and your managers communicate effectively.
Detractors from Good Workflow Management
A part of good workflow management means identifying and avoiding possible pitfalls. Let’s consider a few of these pitfalls:
One of these pitfalls involves multitasking. Some corporate leaders may believe that doing several tasks at once creates more value for their businesses. However, this may not be the case.
Multitasking means that persons will have to constantly switch their mental gears as they move from one diverse task to the next in a short time. The truth is that this transition is not a seamless and quick process. This means a loss in focus, a decline in quality, and a productivity loss.
Furthermore, multitasking can lead to burnout among your team members. Stressed, overworked, depressed, and unmotivated staff are not a winning formula. So, multitasking is not a good idea for optimal workflow management.
Automation can help to eliminate the need for multitasking. Adopting the right technologies will ensure that projects are arranged by deadlines and assigned to persons that are most suitable for them. This prioritized system eliminates the need for multitasking and ensures a stress-free experience for all.
Another pitfall to having an effective workflow is procrastination. Even the most motivated team members have some aspects of their roles that they would rather avoid. However, this can lead to disaster, as projects are put off until the last minute. This then results in adverse outcomes for all concerned.
There are two ways to overcome procrastination. The first is to take on the difficult or ugly tasks first. This means taking immediate decisive actions that create significant results. Such members should also avoid shortcuts and develop a love of accomplishing goals.
Another method is the 2-minute rule. This means breaking down each task into actionable 2-minute steps that become habit-forming. For example, responding to emails can be broken down into responding to 2 emails in 2 minutes. Once a gateway habit is formed, then it is more likely that a person will continue doing more of that activity, thus overriding procrastination.
You can apply this 2-minute rule in any scenario. If a task takes two minutes or less, then do it immediately.
As a corporate leader, you should ensure that all team members make regular status reports. This accountability structure will reduce the likelihood of procrastination and its undesirable fallout.
Lack of Boundaries
It’s important to have a structure for projects, your teams and the time dedicated to working on those projects. When there are no limits, then mayhem is inevitable as you will have overworked team members for sub-par results.
Instead, you should ensure that you:
- Clearly define all team members’ responsibilities in each project
- Have a clear understanding of the time availability of each member
- Manage the length of meetings
- Encourage team members to work uninterrupted for the best results
Top Tips to Manage Workflow for Best Results
Let’s consider some essential tips to better manage workflow within your company.
Outline Key Steps
It’s best to specify the essential steps to manage workflow better. This means listing the hours needed to complete a project, the tools needed for an assignment, and the content that’s required.
Pursue Productive Habits
You and your team will need to follow a list of specific productive habits. This will help you to accomplish important benchmarks.
Develop and Maintain Your Brand
Your brand is your most important marketing tool. So, you and your team need to develop and maintain a brand handbook for the content created by your business.
To manage workflow effectively means regular reviews and analysis of each process.
Invest in Effective Tools
You should invest in project management tools to help team members collaborate. You should also use templates, repeatable processes, workflow diagrams, and automation to save time.
Utilize Cloud Software
Cloud software programs can help your team receive on-demand notifications.
These investments also include training personnel. You can create a system of local experts to help train your newly hired team members.
Encourage In-House Experts
Once you have effective training programs, this will increase the expertise of your team. However, some persons will emerge as internal experts in various aspects of the new workflow. You should give these experts support to help other team members become proficient in their roles.
You also need to carefully manage company messaging to improve your marketing outcomes.
Set the Basic Requirements
It’s important to focus on basic requirements when managing your business workflow. You’ll need to identify your audience, assign and delegate responsibility, and define the end goal of each project.
Improve Workflow Processes
You and your team should refine more complex workflow processes to gain further efficiencies. This will help your company to experience greater profitability and growth.
Solvo Can Help You Manage Workflow for Your Business!
As you can see, it’s a lot of work to manage workflow so that your company can perform at its best. However, if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, then that’s no problem at all! At Solvo we provide the full-service solution for all your staffing needs. Whether you need back office or front office support, HR services, logistics, sales or accounting requirements, we’ve got you covered! Contact us today to discuss how we can help you serve more customers, maximize your performance and exceed your company’s goals.