David FullerParents have rules for a reason and my daughter Isabel learned the hard way.

Jumping up and down on the couch, after she’d been told not to, resulted in a trip to the hospital. Not only was she bleeding but, at the age of three, she lost four of her baby teeth when her face hit the coffee table.

I rushed her down to the hospital, where Isabel got her mouth stitched up and I got questioned about how my child really lost her teeth.

Going to the hospital was a valuable lesson. Isabel didn’t jump on the couch after that and my expectations were that she would abide by the rules more often because she wouldn’t want to face such consequences again.

In business, too, we have rules, expectations and consequences – although we tend to call the rules systems.

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More advice on running your business

I spoke with an employer recently who told me that he asked one of his employees for a report and gave her a deadline. The report was delivered by the deadline but was substandard and didn’t meet the expectations of the job.

Realizing that she was unable to perform her duties to the required standards, he was forced to introduce consequences. He made some changes to her job description that were a relief to the employee and him.

Implementing systems in any business allow owners and managers to set parameters on how, when and why things get done. These parameters and systems are really the rules that the business works by. A system is a way of doing things.

People rebel against rules but a system is the way we do things so that the results are consistent. Finding areas of your business to implement systems can reduce your stress levels significantly.

If, for example, you found there were less injuries, less waste or less energy used when you do a procedure in a certain way, you would want all your staff to do that each and every time. Creating a system, documenting that system and training your employees to implement it can ensure that every time that procedure is done you use less energy, have less waste and less risk of injury. And your stress level falls.

So how do we know where you need to implement systems?

One great way is to ask your employees. As owners, we often think we know how to do everything the best way, but if you have been smart and hired people who are better than you, your employees can often come up with ideas for systems that will save you time, energy and money.

These questions need to be asked on a regular basis:

  • What could we do that would make this place run better?
  • What’s the most challenging part of your job and how could we make it easier?
  • How do you think we could save energy, prevent injuries or reduce our waste?

A system is just rules about how things are to be done in a certain situation, so something as simple as turning off all the lights at night to save energy can be added to our system. You probably have a system for closing up the business at the end of the day. Adding turning off all the lights to the closing duties and documenting how that’s done (system), making someone responsible for that (expectation) and discussing the consequences (a reprimand for wasting energy), is all that simple system needs.

And that simple system might save you a couple of hundred dollars a year. If you owned an operation with a really tight cash flow, a couple of hundred dollars a year might let you sleep better one night a year. If you’re sleep deprived because you’re stressed, you would probably pay a couple of hundred dollars for a great sleep.

Now that was a very small example of why we need systems, but the truth is that when we implement systems and get our employees to follow those systems, we can bring about significant changes in the operation that really impact our bottom line.

Just as families need rules so the kids don’t knock out their teeth and end up in the hospital, rules or systems followed in business can be huge in reducing the risk of injuries and reducing costs.

What systems could you implement in your business that would reduce your risk, energy consumption or waste?

What systems could streamline your operations and increase sales and profitability – and reduce your stress?

David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.

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