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Trust the Process


Trust the Process

Trust the Process

What do you do when you are so far in the hole that success seems unattainable? If you have a reliable process, you trust it will see you through.

That was exactly the advice Tom Brady gave to his team when they were trailing by 25 points in Super Bowl 51. Despite how bad things were early in the third quarter, Brady told his teammates to trust in the process that got them there. Play by play, yard by yard, they stuck to what they did best, eventually resulting in an overtime win for the Patriots.

In closer context, during the start of 2016 we experienced a drop in business at GCP. The year wasn’t necessarily a bad one, but a few aspects outside our control had a significant impact on our results. When we evaluated our systems and processes in place, we determined nothing was broken. So I told my team to simply not deviate from our process and methodology of how we conduct our business. As a result, we ended up with a strong third and fourth quarter.

When you don’t have a process in place, chaos reigns. Your team is unsure about what they need to do, they may start blaming one another for failures, management might be asking, why didn’t we do this or that? However, having a process is only the first step, and even when you have strong system in place there can be a temptation to abandon it.

Process Prevents Chaos

Sticking to your process when times are tough is usually the right decision, but it’s not always an instinctual one to make. Leaders can be emotional and as such make decisions that result in unnecessary changes. It is times like this when processes are extremely important. They prevent us from tossing out good aspects of our business. However, not all emotional decisions lead to chaos. Some just lead to poor results and demotivation of your team.

Over the years, we have taken the time to develop a strong hiring process. Who you let in your “house” is an important decision. We look for certain personal characteristics which will enable them to fit into our organization and use that knowledge to create our interview questions and hiring steps. We stick to that process because we know what happens if we don’t.

Making a hiring decision based on emotion is tempting. A candidate can be very likable, unfortunately, a likable candidate is not always a qualified candidate. If we did not have a process to ensure we were hiring the best person for the role, we would find ourselves hiring someone that might not work well inside our team. Our process gives us understanding and permission to say, “No.”

Building Your Process

Building a process is as simple as thinking logically about all the steps you need to take to accomplish a goal. A leader will often take an initial stab at creating the process, but it’s important to get everyone on your team involved. A robust process is the result of a group coming together to think about all the steps necessary to complete a task.

In some respects, you want your processes to be dynamic. When mistakes start occurring, or things are not running as smooth as they should, you have to go back and review your steps. Situations may arise where your process needs to be modified, but for the most part if it is working, avoid making significant changes. There is an old expression, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I stop and remember this when I get the emotional urge to change for the sake of change.

When you have a process in place, you accomplish the task at hand much faster and with far more confidence. A process can also allow you to be far more creative, as your mind is not bogged down wondering what is supposed to happen next. You know what the next step is and how to react. Once a process is in place, it’s your job as the leader to make sure it is being followed.

Stick To Your Process

As I mentioned, emotional decisions can sometimes lead an organization to abandon their ways and change course from what has worked. Other reasons organizations deviate from their process are: they’ve become too familiar with it, they get tired of it, or lastly, they no longer think it serves a purpose.

Years ago we created our unique sourcing program called, the Risk-Free Sourcing Solution™ (RFSS). A process we developed to ensure our customers receive the highest quality products at the optimal value. It worked great. In fact it worked so well and we became so familiar with it, we started to get away from it. We didn’t think we needed the process anymore. We thought we had it covered.

Well I can tell you we learned the hard way. When recurring mistakes started to take place, we were the ones who had to cover the financial loss (as per the guidelines on how we operate our RFSS). Error’s that in all likelihood could have been avoided had we stuck to our process. Today that RFSS process is vital to our business. It allows us to determine right up front if we should be taking on a project or not. Remember what I said earlier about making emotional decisions? It’s easy to get excited about the potential gains of a new customer. But due to our process, I don’t have to worry about getting overly excited and taking on the wrong job or miss identifying a customer’s critical material specifications.

Every single customer and product must go through this process. We have trained our people on the RFSS methodology, which gives them the confidence they need to do it right. I can sleep at night because I know the process works.

A Process Facilitates Growth

How would you be able to scale your company if you did not have processes in place? You don’t grow through complexity; you grow through simplicity.

The Patriots were able to come back from a historical deficit because Brady said to his teammates, trust the process, and do your job. They didn’t have to worry about the score; they only needed to concentrate on accomplishing their specific task, play by play to win the game.

As leaders, we need to be clear on the result we want to achieve. If we focus only on the numbers, we miss how critical our processes and people can be to our success. When we stick to what has worked in the past, we can come back from just about any adversity.

4 Steps to Building a Process That Works

1.      Examine where you have breakdowns in your system.

2.      Determine if the issue/s are caused by lack of process, or personal related.

3.      Create or redesign your processes with the people who are responsible for carrying it out in mind.

4.      Next provide the proper training so they can successfully administer the process.

As the Patriots showed all of us with their historic comeback in Super Bowl 51, we have the potential and power to accomplish the same in our businesses if we follow what has worked and “Trust the Process”.

Until next time,

Gary Mottershead