Even with continuous communication with your employees (as discussed in the blog titled Business Process Documentation Strategy Buy-In, occasional resistance to your business process documentation strategy is unavoidable. In the rush to complete the documentation, you might be blind to employee reactions.
This post lists some potential trouble spots (resistance factors) and provides questions you might ask to determine whether these factors are influencing employee resistance to the business process documentation strategy. In fact, they are good questions to ask as you are initially designing and developing the documentation.
Business Process Documentation Strategy Resistance Factors
This list is adapted from Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: A Step-by-Step Resource for Clear Communication by N. J. Campbell.
Company’s Cultural Norms
- Does the procedure or process go against company tradition? How longstanding is the tradition?
- How strongly do employees feel about the tradition? What is the best way to move employees away from that tradition?
- What is the company’s perspective on the issue?
- What is the employee’s perspective on the issue? Are employees expecting something different from what the company plans to give them? Where did they get this impression? How can it be counteracted?
- How large is the gap between these perspectives? How can the gap be closed?
- Are the documentation formats reader-friendly?
- Is the documentation well-designed and produced?
- Is the documentation easy to find? Is there a table of contents or an index?
- Does everyone who needs the information have easy or quick access to the information?
- Does the procedure or process documentation match the management style?
- Does it correspond with the stated goals?
- Is it consistent with the way things really work within the company?
- Do employees look at the documentation and groan?
- Are employees likely to be overwhelmed by technical matters within the documentation?
- Are there any employees who fear they cannot cope with the documentation? Are there any employees who may be afraid to try?
- Is the documentation written in plain language? Is the writing short and concise?
- Does the procedure or process contradict any written policy or any other existing written procedure or process?
- Does it contradict any unwritten policy or any other existing unwritten procedure or process?
- Is it consistent with what employees are told informally?
- Is it consistent with what managers and supervisors actually do or expect?
- Is the procedure or process “don’t” documentation?
- Is the documentation written for offenders of the procedure or process? Is the documentation a reaction to a few isolated incidents? Is it aimed at one or two violators? Or, does it address an issue that affects most employees?
- Is there any way to word the documentation to tell employees what is expected rather than what is not expected?
- Is the procedure or process consistent with current technology?
- Is it in sync with current practice in your field or industry?
- Is there a revision or an update system in place?
- Does the procedure or process actually accomplish something? If so, what does it precisely accomplish?
- Does the procedure or process and its accompanying documentation make the employee’s job easier? Does it take less time? Does it take less effort? Is it more cost-effective?
- Does the procedure or process and its accompanying documentation make the employee’s life easier? Does it reduce frustration? Does it reduce confusion? Does it increase satisfaction?
- Does the procedure or process documentation permit the employee to exercise some degree of knowledge, judgment, or discretion? If not, is there a good reason (health and safety, regulations, consistency)?
- Does the documentation allow supervisors or team leaders to lead as opposed to enforcing mindlessly?
- Do supervisors or team leaders need general guidelines or specific how-to instructions? If so, which are they given?
- Does the procedure or process violate any laws such as health and safety, privacy, discrimination, etc.?
- Does it tread on sensitive issues that employees might perceive as a right such as personal choices (speech, appearance)?
- Is the procedure or process documentation reasonable from the company’s perspective, given the combination of circumstances and employee expectations?
- Do employees see it as reasonable? If not, why?
- Have employees been given a reasonable amount of time to adjust to the documentation?
- Is the procedure or process documentation accurate?
- Is the documentation complete?
- Does it tell employees everything they really need to know?
- Has sufficient time been devoted to research?
- Has the documentation been tested to the best degree possible?
- Has the documentation been tested in realistic conditions?