There’s always a project that you know you need to do, but you always manage to put it off, don’t you? Relax — it’s human nature to procrastinate, especially on things we know we hate or perceive as difficult.
The great news is once you commit to getting it done, it’s rarely as hard to do and normally well worth the effort.
I know because once upon a time I was a procrastinator. I would have stayed that way if not for the help of my mom. She saw that I struggled with my homework and had bad study habits, but she coached me: “Start with a plan. Do something easy and build your confidence versus starting with something tough and getting frustrated.”
It really works.
That said, there comes a time when you do have to do something you just don’t love, or you even hate. A good example is that you know you need to document the policies and procedures it takes to run your company.
Sometimes, you need to know there’s a great WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) to help push you forward and do something you dislike or you know will be hard.
Here’s a great example. Suppose you’re a plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical company and you had enough work to keep 10 techs busy. And let’s say these 10 great techs are both good at sales and well-trained technically. What’s the chance they could go to 10 different locations and fix a toilet, fix a heating problem, fix a cooling problem or fix an electrical problem your company’s way?
Answer: Zero to none.
That’s because there’s nothing in writing that defines your company’s way of doing anything.
How do I know? Because my company was founded in 1936, and until I did these life-changing manuals in 1996, this problem plagued us.
Do you think I wanted to write manuals? Nope. In fact, I knew it was going to be hard. But, I knew my life would never get better until I did.
So, I spent a year just creating the outline that detailed all the tasks it took to run our company. I sat in with each department from accounts receivable, accounts payable, customer service reps, dispatchers and techs. Yes, one year to create the outline. Hey, I was still busy with my paying job.
I knew I didn’t have the skills or the time to put this all into writing, so I hired an industry legend and professional writer, Dan Holohan, to run meetings where we brought in staff to work out the policies and procedures I had outlined. We discovered the ones I was missing: 80% of what we did day-to-day.
Thank heavens I invested the money, which in today’s money is $153,000.00 or so. I say those manuals paid for themselves in about two years because:
We reduced nuisance callbacks that angered clients and cost us money;
We maximized each call we ran;
We lowered our insurance costs by minimizing stupid insurance claims; and
We improved our communication skills, and that improved our sales.
There were even more benefits because the manuals became the tool we needed to make:
Existing staff better;
Newly hired, experienced staff better — fast; and
Newly hired, willing people who had few or no skills turn into the great staff we had always dreamed about.
All of that made us more money and reduced our day-to-day stress.
Here is some more helpful advice on getting things you don’t love done:
Commit in whatever software you use for your calendar at least one hour per week to work on this project you know you need to do. It’s the idea of: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Delegate it to someone the right way, and that involves using something like my Steps of Delegation template so it’s in writing and there’s a good handoff and good accountability.
When it comes to operating manuals, I can tell you that your company will never be as good as it can be until you have them and you learn the tips, tricks and strategies for getting them in the culture and getting real buy-in.
The good news is you can get big-time help on this project. That’s because you don’t have to do all this on your own. Read below about the special program I’ve created called “Build Your Operating Manuals” and find out more about how I can help you jump-start getting your operating manuals project to “done status” without as much struggle or expense.
This article was originally titled “Don’t have to love it — just have to do it” in the October 2017 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.