Make success feel easy

When I was a kid, I loved video games. My friends and I would stay up late on the weekends, trying to beat a level or figure out how to find a secret passage.

And whenever we couldn’t figure out how to beat a game ourselves we would go to the store and read through a magazine called GamePro. For kids growing up in the 90’s GamePro was the source of truth for all things video game related. (If you had a GamePro subscription, you were the coolest kid on the block. No bully could touch you.)

GamePro was great because they always had walkthroughs for the newest games out. 

These walkthroughs showed you exactly what to do to find success in the game. It almost felt like cheating. 

GamePro included pictures and detailed descriptions of how to approach every challenge in a game. All you had to do was follow the instructions and you would win. There were still a lot of challenging levels and bosses to defeat, but it was easier to believe success was possible because you knew exactly what you had to do.

It was incredible to have a guide available to help you when you needed it.

When I got older I realized these walkthroughs were actually just standard operating procedures.

And even though a lot of people my age grew up using them to help us find every secret item in Tomb Raider, we aren’t always the best at creating them for our teams. 

This is the part of the email where we transition into the “Good Stuff”.

Here are three questions for this group of people managers and leaders:

  1. Why don’t we do a better job of creating walkthroughs for our team? 
  2. Why don’t we give them what they need to make success feel EASY?
  3. How would our teams and organizations look differently if we did?

People don’t wake up and decide to be bad at their job. As a manager, your team wants and needs to know what you expect of them.

Fun Fact: The first question Gallup asks on their Q12 employee engagement survey is, “I know what is expected of me at work.”

SOP’s are also a great way to simplify your onboarding process. 

And look at this:

If your team has to show up and guess what to do every day, don’t be surprised when they guess wrong. 

🕶️🎧PODCAST ALERT! I broke down the ART of developing Standard Operating Procedures in the latest episode of the Leader’s Lens podcast, featuring my friend from Twitter Jasper Polak

Now let’s dive into how we can get started creating impactful SOPs.

3 Steps to SOPs that Sing

Standard Operating Procedures are powerful because they allow you to save your mental bandwidth for the deep work and problem solving you’ll need to do as a manager. 

They will help ensure:

  • Knowledge isn’t lost with employee turnover,
  • Your team delivers more consistent outcomes,
  • And you can easily follow up to inspect what you expect. 

Here are 3 steps to helping you get started.

Step 1: Use the Tools available! 

Don’t look at knowledge documentation as a burden; it’s an opportunity for the team and the organization to get aligned and ensure everyone has an opportunity to be at their best.

Start simple and use Google Docs to write out step by step processes. 

🕶Add pictures to ensure there is clarity around what each step looks like. It’s an easy way to save yourself from writing 1000 words.

If you want to step it up a notch, look into tools like Notion, Scribe, Tango, and Loom.

Step 2: Keep it simple

One reason using tools is great is because they will allow you to simplify. (SOPs should also stand for Simplify Office Procedures.)

Some SOPs will only need to be 2 paragraphs long. Sometimes all you need to do is record yourself talking into a camera while you do the task.

Each SOP should be 3 things:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to replicate
  • Easy to understand

You want it to be easier for people to use the resources available than it is to reach out to you for direction.

🕶When you get questions after creating a resource be supportive but also point people back to the resources available to ensure they understand how to find them. They may also be able to provide you with insights that will help you close any gaps. 

Step 3: Use SOPs as a Development Opportunity

When you have experienced performers on your team, especially those looking for opportunities for career development, delegating the creation of a Standard Operating Procedure is a great option.

It gives them the opportunity to share their expertise and take ownership of a project that will multiply their impact.

It’s also a great opportunity to take initiative and gain exposure as someone who is a problem solver and willing to help the team.

🕶If you are a manager at a corporation looking to move up the ladder, find an opportunity to create or update an SOP for your organization. Make a video so whenever people watch it, they see you. It’s a great way to expand your brand in your company. 

Creating an SOP shouldn’t take much longer than explaining a process to a new employee. The benefit is that you are able to create it once and share it forever. 

How good is your organization with Standard Operating Procedures? Do you feel confident in your ability to step in and make an impact? 

Reply to this email and let me know. l would love to look for ways to offer you all more support in this area.
Quick side note: My podcast is filled with much more actionable than it was in the past. The first few episodes were rough but it’s been fun getting in the groove. Thanks to everyone who has been sending feedback and sharing with friends.If you are a people manager, this podcast is for you.

Jacob Espinoza is a leadership coach in Salem, Oregon. For more information visit JacobEspinoza.com.

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