Procedures are essential to maintain consistency, quality, and safety in any organization. However, even with well-defined procedures in place, employees may still fail to follow them. When employees do not follow procedures, it can lead to severe consequences, including safety hazards, poor quality, loss of productivity, and damage to the organization's reputation. This blog post will explore why employees fail to follow procedures and discuss how to address the issue effectively.
The Surface Problem
When employees fail to follow procedures, it may seem like simple negligence or lack of discipline. However, this is often just the surface problem, and underlying issues may be causing the problem. It is essential to dig deeper and understand the root cause of the problem to address it effectively.
Reasons Behind Employee Failure to Follow Procedures
Here are five broad categories that these potential causes for procedures not being followed can be grouped into:
Communication and Training:
- Lack of understanding: Employees may not fully understand the procedures or why they are essential.
- Poor training: Employees may not have received adequate training on following the procedures.
- Inadequate communication: Employees may not have received clear and effective communication about the procedures.
- Complexity: Procedures may be too complex or difficult to understand, leading to confusion and mistakes.
- Not user-friendly: Procedures may not be designed in a way that is user-friendly and easy to follow.
- Insufficient feedback: Employees may not receive adequate feedback on their procedure compliance.
Management and Accountability:
- Lack of supervision: Employees may not have sufficient supervision or oversight to ensure they follow procedures.
- Lack of accountability: Employees may not feel accountable for following procedures, leading to non-compliance.
- Insufficient consequences: There may be no consequences for not following procedures, leading to non-compliance.
- Inadequate buy-in: Employees may not understand the benefits of the procedures, leading to low buy-in.
- Lack of ownership: Employees may not feel ownership over the procedures, leading to disengagement.
- Inadequate reinforcement: Employees may not receive enough reinforcement or positive feedback for following procedures, leading to a lack of motivation to continue doing so.
- Lack of leadership: Leadership may not prioritize or actively enforce adherence to procedures, leading to a culture of non-compliance.
Resources and Support:
- Insufficient resources: Employees may not have access to the necessary tools, equipment or support to follow procedures properly.
- Insufficient support: Employees may not receive enough support, guidance, or training to follow procedures properly.
- Lack of empowerment: Employees may not feel empowered to make decisions or take action when needed to ensure compliance with procedures.
- Inadequate tools: Employees may not have access to the right technology or resources to follow procedures effectively.
- Lack of prioritization: Procedures may not be prioritized or given enough importance within the organization, leading to a culture of non-compliance.
- Inconsistency: The process may be inconsistent or unclear, leading to confusion and non-compliance.
- Lack of clarity: Procedures may not be clearly defined or communicated, causing employees to misunderstand them.
- Inadequate documentation: Procedures may not be adequately documented, making it difficult for employees to reference and follow them accurately.
- Inadequate testing: Procedures may not be thoroughly tested before implementation, leading to unforeseen issues and non-compliance.
- Inadequate measurement: Procedures may not have clear metrics or standards for measuring success, making it difficult for employees to understand the importance of following them.
- Inadequate standards: Procedures may not be held to a high enough standard, leading to lax enforcement and non-compliance.
- Inadequate flexibility: Procedures may not allow necessary adjustments or exceptions in certain situations, leading to frustration and non-compliance.
Cultural and Psychological Factors:
- Resistance to change: Employees may resist following new procedures because they are used to doing things a certain way or may not see the value in changing their behaviour.
- Bureaucracy: A rigid organizational structure can make it difficult for employees to follow procedures that do not align with their specific role or department.
- Lack of trust: Employees who do not trust the management or leadership may be less likely to follow procedures.
- Low morale: Employees with low morale may not see the point in following procedures, leading to non-compliance.
- Lack of motivation: Employees who are not motivated to follow procedures may be less likely to do so.
- Lack of incentives: Employees may not see the benefit in doing so if there are no incentives or rewards for following procedures.
Addressing the Issue
To address the issue of employee failure to follow procedures effectively, it is essential to understand the root cause of the problem. Once the root cause is identified, the following steps can be taken:
- Develop Clear Procedures: Procedures should be concise and easy to understand. They should also be communicated effectively to employees to ensure they understand the importance of following them.
- Provide Adequate Training: Employees should receive adequate training on the procedures to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to follow them.
- Motivate Employees: Employees should be motivated to follow procedures by highlighting their importance and providing incentives.
- Communicate Effectively: Procedures should be communicated effectively to employees to ensure they understand them fully. Communication should be two-way, with employees able to ask questions and provide feedback.
- Hold Employees Accountable: Employees should be held accountable for following procedures. Consequences should be clearly defined for failing to follow procedures.
- Provide Adequate Resources: Employees should have access to the necessary resources to follow procedures effectively. This may include updated equipment, tools, or software.
Employee failure to follow procedures can be a significant problem for organizations. However, looking beyond the surface problem and identifying the root cause is essential to address the issue effectively. By developing clear procedures, providing adequate training, motivating employees, communicating effectively, holding employees accountable, and providing sufficient resources, organizations can ensure that employees follow procedures consistently, leading to better quality, increased productivity, and a safer work environment. It is essential to prioritize following procedures and continuously evaluate and improve the procedures to ensure they remain effective and relevant to the organization's needs. By doing so, organizations can build a culture where following procedures is a part of daily operations, leading to long-term success and growth.