This article was written by one of our productivity assistants in the Philippines, Jessie Silverman.
Sometimes it's easy to take certain everyday processes for granted, especially when not doing them as efficiently as we could have doesn't always have an apparent negative effect. But over time, neglecting the small things can end up sabotaging the big things. To quote a famous proverb,"For want of a nail... the kingdom was lost."
At Prialto, a significant part of personal assistant training deals with studying best practices for core processes and everyday tools that the company has learned through the years. Sometimes at first glance, they may not seem particularly difficult or complicated, and make so much sense that it can make one wonder why a training document has to be written up in the first place.
However, as we sometimes see in real life, "common sense" can be underrated. There are also times in everyday work when so much is going on that the basics can end up being neglected. In times like that, it's always a relief to have a sensible reference in place. If, even outside of work, there are how-to articles and videos for everyday things like cooking eggs, using the microwave, or doing the laundry, why shouldn't there be company documents or standards for taking calls or managing purchases?
If, in your company or organization, the case has to be made to nail the basics before tackling more ambitious goals, here are some points to ponder on why it's a good idea, if not a crucial decision, to secure that foundation first.
Benefits of Implementing Best Practices
- Establish baseline standards for skill, competency, and efficiency that takes nothing for granted. To adequately support the employees, the organization is responsible for providing them with everything they may need for success, including reliable process documentation. Besides, the individual's success is the organization's success, and the organization may do well with supporting that possibility for success as comprehensively as possible.
- Clarify strategies in everyday processes that follow guiding principles, or lead towards larger goals. Large company initiatives are usually supported by smaller, incremental daily activities that support these goals. An explicit documentation of how these best practices contribute to those goals helps benchmark employees' work, and gives them a vision to work towards.
- Set a benchmark that the team can improve on based on their everyday experiences, or innovate on with the right ideas and preparation. Established best practices don't have to stifle innovation. Paired with a work culture that allows individuals to ask "why" in the spirit of understanding the spirit or larger context, it can be instead the metaphorical shoulders of giants that the next waves or batches of employees can build on.
- Instill an ideal "work lifestyle" conducive to life-long learning in both the individual and the organization. Documenting and updating best practices as they are discovered and allowing employees to provide feedback without fear of reprisal, or even rewarding them for proactively contributing through recognition and the like, can set the beginning of an open culture of learning for the organization. From there, people begin to value these best practices as they are implemented, and become more engaged in their work in efforts to contribute to the organization's collective knowledge. This can also spill into their lives outside of work as well, where they can begin to value the benefits of life-long learning and innovation, and apply these values to their everyday circumstances as well.
Despite these benefits, best practices alone don't guarantee the success of an organization. For one thing, they won't always be applicable to every single instance; they only serve as guidelines. Also, they are only as good as the managers who implement them.
From what I've seen in previous work experiences, leaders drive their teams and organizations by example and by the motivation they inspire in their followers. That will always be the force that pulls a group of people forward. And to keep the momentum going, it's good to have an elevated safety net like best practices to launch new people up to speed, and for others to lean back on so they get back on track.
About the Author: Jessie worked primarily in the digital marketing industry for the first half of her career before shifting to the executive office industry. She takes lifelong learning seriously, and reads up on topics like culture design and psychology in her free time.