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Systems Over People Any Day of the Week

Updated: Jun 20

Set Your Team up for Success with Systems

Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you don't have a system for how you work, don't throw another person into said work. People are rarely the cure.

The cure is using a system consistently. So consistently, in fact, that you can show someone else how to do it.

Let me slow down. What is a system, you might ask? In this context, I simply mean "a way of doing something". Notice I didn't say a perfect or infallible way. Just a way.

Case in point: recently, I supported a growing team at a consulting firm. They were busy, so busy in fact, that they did not have time to read their own email. I was brought in to help them manage their inboxes. While I can read your email for you, sure, the real questions are:

  • Why are you so booked that you have no flexibility in your day,

  • Why are you managing tasks in Gmail, and most importantly,

  • What systems are you using, both individually and as a team, to manage workflow?

Because here’s the thing: hiring someone is not a system.

A system can be as simple as a team agreeing only to include relevant parties in emails and to track projects in Trello. It can mean an executive CC'ing his assistant on all scheduling emails so they can take the lead on scheduling calls and meetings. As a team grows, it can become even more complex and can include what tools they use, when, and why.

Having a system basically codifies how you do something so that it can be replicated consistently.

I'll just say it: do not hire anyone for a job that you can't teach them how to do. It’s not just knowing what needs to be done, but also the preferred way that your team works so your new team member can quickly get up to speed and do the thing that you hired them to do.

There are many reasons for this, but consider:

  • What if you're away or sick?

  • What if your team grows, and THEY need to teach it to someone else?

  • Or the opposite, what if they quit suddenly?

If you don't have a system that you can teach to someone else, you're basically screwed. Having a system basically codifies how you do something so that it can be replicated consistently.

Don't be afraid to write it down or put it in a shared team document. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be complete. Don't worry about it being perfect. I'm positive you'll tweak your processes over time, and that's fine.

**To recap:**

1. Create simple systems for how you work

2. Write it down

3. Be able (and willing) to teach it to someone else

4. Tweak or modify your system as necessary.

That's literally it.

One more thing: don't be as married to the results as you are to the process. The real magic is in the process and all the things you and your team will learn there.

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