By: Ricki Sexton
A word that I have never used quite so frequently in my entire life as I have in the last eight months as an employee is procedures. I’ve had “procedures” done at doctor’s offices. I’ve had “procedures” done in the dentist office. When I first started my career at Partners, I would define things as “instructions”. Now, I too, have fallen into the “procedures” wording, because let’s face it – Procedures is a much clearer word!
I, personally, am a hyper-organized individual in my work life. My binder clips are organized in my desk in small Rubbermaid containers by size. Highlighters have their own place in my desk. I have a spiral notebook on my desk that I make notes on, and write to-do lists, and keep notes for my staff meetings. When I have a large amount of work to do, the first thing I do is sort it into piles of type ofwork that needs doing, and then follow that up with priority/due date. Even when my desk is a mess, it is not a true mess. I feel confident I would chew my own arm off before I would leave a messy desk on a Friday afternoon.
Imagine my delight to come to work at Partners in 2014, and find that we have endless folders on a network, organized by client… full of standard operating procedures on what we do, and how we do it (the reason AMC accreditation is so important)! Oh! The joy that came to me almost made me faint. The key to an efficient, well run department is organization, clear job duties for all staff members and teamwork. When you have a gray area on who is responsible for what task, things are certain to fall through the cracks. Since I have come on board, I have looked at a number of areas for continuous improvement, in my quest for a smooth running department. The title of Member Services Department equates to: We give customer service. If we are not organized with clear goals, and the tools we need to provide customer service, we will not excel. When we don’t excel at what we do, we are failing our company, our associations and their members.
I recently read an article on 7 Ways To Keep Your Small Business Organized And Chaos-Free. (Article) It was an interesting read, and I could definitely think of ways that I can use some of these tips to further organize my department, as well as procedures I have implemented in my short time here that were seemingly taken directly from this list. One thing not mentioned on here that I have begun implementing recently that is making a great difference is cross training. I have two new staff members beginning in my department in the next two weeks, and I have set their training plans to where in the instance of any one of my staff being out, will not cause chaos and confusion. Another team member will easily be able to step into the absent team member’s spot with no difficulties, reducing the potential for the chaos that sometimes comes when a department is short staffed.
Writing procedures, organizing and clear expectations, are what wins the race for the efficient department!