Lean HR resources are used to eliminate waste, identify the root cause of a problem and focus on the customer. As HR Professionals we set goals to support the strategic needs of the business. We can especially benefit from applying Lean tools in our effort to demonstrate value and meet customer expectations.
Lean HR isn’t just for large companies. It applies to all Human Resources professionals. During this course, you will learn…
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Title: Standardized Work Instructions
Module: Lean Tools
Now that you’ve moved forward with making improvements to a process, it’s time to take the last step, Control. One of the most underrated and under utilized tool in an HR department is Standardized Work Instructions. It also happens to be one of my favorites. And after this lesson I’m confident you will appreciate it as much as I do.
Standardized work instructions or SWI is a fantastic tool to document all the necessary steps and materials for completing a process.
This is the written, detailed description of any process you wish to repeat, improve and maintain over time. It is meant to control your process by keeping it organized and accessible in one place. It also gives anyone who needs to implement it an easy to use guide.
Here is how SWI works. You start with a process. Define its milestones. And identify the steps and materials needed for completion.
At the very top of the document, will be the process name. Underneath is the date, process owner and process definition. Just like in any set of directions, you want it to be easily identifiable by putting these titles at the top.
Now you have to start thinking timeframe. Work backwards from the end. Ask yourself, how long does it take to complete this process? For example, let’s say, 4 months. At the end of 4 months this process will be done and you’ll have completed a series of steps to make it happen. In the first section of the document, you’ll want to identify each step of the process during the first month. The second section would entail whatever needs to be completed the second month and so on.
Within the section, you’ll have a heading for step number, step name, a description, materials and participants. You could also include a separate column for a specific timeframe.
Next fill out each step along with a description of the step. Under materials, imbed whatever documents are necessary to complete it and list the participants who are responsible.
Now I know putting together standardized work instructions can be very time consuming. I’ve documented a process that was nearly 20 pages long before! However, there are a number of benefits. Let’s review a few.
Number 1 Consistency. Documenting the steps of a process allows you to complete it in a consistent manner for optimizing performance. Your managers will know what to expect and, if you have employees reporting to you, they can learn and follow the process as well.
Number 2 Identification of gaps. Remember we want to continually look for improvements to the process, the key isn’t to keep everything the same all the time. Once you developed the first version of the document and you followed your process a couple of times, you can identify gaps. This is why there’s a date at the top of the document. As you make improvements, you’ll want to change the date.
Number 3 Reduction in wasted time. The instructions let you know what to do when, with all the necessary materials in one place. You will not need to go looking for documents or other tools associated to the process.
In summary, I strongly recommend you build standardized work instructions for your major HR processes. It’s a great way to increase your efficiency which ultimately will improve your customer satisfaction.
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Christina A. Danforth, SHRM-SCP & SPHR, launched HR Jetpack in 2016 to support the development and professional growth of her fellow HR colleagues. She started her HR career in 2002. After obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration degree, Christina joined United Technologies Corporation. She moved across the United States...