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How to Get Veteran Employees to Use SOPs

One of our clients recently discussed problems they had getting their veteran employees to use and follow their company’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) and company procedures manual. As a consequence, errors and inconsistencies were commonplace.
It’s only human nature. If you’ve been doing a job for a long time, you think “I can do this in my sleep” and you think you don’t need to follow “procedures,” right?  Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
We know (and the research bears this out) that relying solely on memory often results in errors or missed steps. If it’s a task you do frequently, having the procedure in front of you may not be necessary. But if it’s a task you don’t do very often, the SOP manual can serve as a critical checklist to prevent errors.
People generally want to do a good job. More times than not the reason veteran employees resist looking things up lies with the SOPs themselves. The way information is structured and presented–overly complex SOPs, redundancies, disorganization, infrequent updates, etc.–make people resistant to applying the standards.
How you handle this issue depends on the situation, but, bottom line, it’s your responsibility to make sure your company’s SOPs are easy-to-use and accessible. If you’ve done that and under performers still won’t use the procedures, then it’s your responsibility to make sure they understand the consequences. An effective strategic management practice is to make it part of an employees’ performance review.
But the FIRST step to preventing any kind of resistance and getting buy-in – from all constituencies in your organization – is to design a policy and procedures system that is user-friendly and that people can trust and rely on.
Through our Operations Mapping approach and Zavanta software, COMPROSE helps our clients design SOPs and policy and procedure systems employees trust and use.