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There two types of work in any organization: developmental and routine.

About 70% of the work in any business is routine work. Basically, this is any task that happens on a regular basis – like social media updates, customer service emails, answering the phone, and others. This means that the other 30% of work in an organization is developmental work. Developmental work includes big projects that may only happen once, such as writing or marketing a book, creating an eCourse, planning an event, or hiring a new employee.

There is always innovativeness to developmental work and, because of that, it is difficult to systematize. The leader may use a systematic approach to developmental work, but the work itself does not allow for much systematization.

Think about launching an eCourse. There is the planning of the course, the creation of video modules and a workbook, as well as developing a marketing plan and some bonus material. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all of the work that must be done! This size project (development work) does not lend itself to a simple system and some delegation.

Routine work, on the other hand, is just asking to be systematized! It may seem like a waste to set up systems for the small jobs in your office, but I’m of the opinion that systems never steer you wrong. Having a system in place for how to answer the phone, how to package a product purchase, and what to say in an email is invaluable!

But, before you run to your office and begin implementing systems, it’s important to know that sometimes they can go wrong. Why? Consider the following reasons (and how to avoid them).

4 Pitfalls that Cause Systems to Fail

1. People

People can cause a work system to fail awfully fast! There are generally three reasons that a person (or group of people) would cause a routine work system to fail. They either…

  • do not know what to do.
  • are not properly motivated.
  • are not properly selected.

How can you prevent this from happening? First of all, spend time hiring the right people. Second, ensure that your employees are in the right job position for their talents and desires. (Don’t place a customer service agent in your marketing department, for example!) Third, make room for conversation about how to improve systems and overcome problems.

2. Information

Information seems like a good thing. How could it cause a system to fail? Well, usually for one of three reasons…

  • lack of information
  • faulty information
  • excessive information

If there is a lack of information, your employees won’t know how to carry out the proper system. Similarly, if there is faulty information, your team will become frustrated and agitated when the systems don’t work correctly. And finally, excessive information does a great job of squashing creativity and making work boring. Your team should have some say in how to implement the systems. Too much information will usually lead to frustration.


3. Design

When it comes to design, two things generally cause a system to fail. The first is improper design, where the leader/manager must eliminate tension where the different components intersect. If the system if not designed correctly, the duties will rub against one another and cause much discomfort.

The second issue related to design is not having one. This seems too simple, but if you don’t have a system design, it’s time to create one!

4. Direction

Similarly to information, direction can cause a system to either thrive or fail. If there is a scarcity of direction, your team will have no clue how to implement your system. They need some steps to take from their fearless leader! This also clues them in on the importance of following the system.

The other possibility is to have extreme direction. This becomes a problem because, like having excessive information, your team members will be given no freedom. If you’re standing over an employee’s shoulder telling her how to answer the phone, she will become frustrated rather quickly. It’s much better to provide some direction and leave a little room for personality and creativity.

To manage any appreciable quality of day-to-day routine work, you cannot personally direct and communicate with those doing the work. Rather, you need a system that will help him guide group action and get the group working together.

Avoid the common pitfalls above & watch as your team’s productivity – and therefore your business success – thrives!