When you implement or change standard operating procedures, this inevitably changes things for your employees. These changes can sometimes be drastic and affect their daily work. It’s only natural that there may be some resistance from your employees to these changes.
There are several reasons your employees may not like SOPs. New rules and regulations tend to rub people the wrong way. Employees may feel that you’re taking decision-making power away from them, or that you don’t trust them enough to make their own decisions. It may appear to them as a criticism of their work. Some employees feel that they thrive in a casual environment and that standardization stifles them.
For example, if a small company that has never had sales and marketing SOPs before creates SOPs that outline the sales process, this may threaten your sales staff. Even if the SOPs simply document the process without making any changes, the employees may feel like they’ve been handling things just fine. Why do they need standard procedures? There are things your company can do to mitigate this resistance so that you can get back to business as usual.
Get Employees Involved
Ask your employees to help you create your company’s SOPs. Have them document regular procedures they use and offer ideas for improvement. Get employees involved in the review and editing process as well. Their direct experience will help to create better SOPs, and they’ll feel that they are more involved.
The same goes for the review and revision process. Give your regular employees an active role in reviewing and revising SOPs so that they feel empowered and can make the necessary changes. Often they’ll find ways to improve the efficiency of a task as they go through the process of reviewing an SOP.
Not Top Down
Communicate well with your employees and make sure they understand that this is not a top-down situation. SOPs are meant to empower them and make their jobs easier, as well as raise the quality of the products and services you offer. Let them know that their input is always welcome and seek their feedback.
Make sure your SOPs are not too restrictive. Your employees need some flexibility in order to make their own decisions. In many work situations, you can give them general guidelines to follow along with examples. Reiterate your company’s vision and values to help your employees in decision-making, rather than forcing them to adhere to restrictive rules.
When Employees Complain
Keep in mind that when an employee complains about a particular SOP, they may not be simply defensive or resentful. There is a good chance that there is a legitimate problem with the SOP that you, in creating it, did not find. Your employees are the ones on the ground using the procedures you’ve created, and they can often spot weaknesses quickest. Take each complaint seriously and use it to create better, more efficient SOPs.