To Inherit or Not to Inherit – That is the Question

I myself am a huge proponent of finding new ways to work smarter. In today’s world, we are continuously looking for ways to improve current processes, or to create new ways for work to be done with more efficiency and higher effectiveness.

When a process feels overly complex, repetitive, or redundant, it usually is- trust your HR instincts!  Processes like these are prime candidates for reinvention. Often when I ask someone the ‘why’ behind what they are doing, their answer is along the lines of “I’m not too sure, that’s how it was done before me”. These are what I like to refer to as ‘inherited processes’. When we first inherit a task, whether it is as a result of starting a new job or you are expanding your work responsibilities, we are much more analytical and curious about our work. Once we zoom in on our day to day work we stop questioning the why and focus more on the how and what, loosing that fresh perspective. Try your best to keep this viewpoint well after the honeymoon is over!

Tools can be created that are effective but not efficient, managing to measure or assist the process they were designed to help with but at a cost of time or money greater than the original process- that’s not a good tool! Perhaps the tool is overly complex, tedious, or is simply seen as a make-work activity. It’s like the old adages ‘It’s only a good deal if you need it’ referring to purchasing items on sale for the sake of getting a deal, or, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. These little sayings can be applied to many situations in life, including making processes at work better.

I’m sure we all have been the victim of inheriting a common problem that many small HR shops have: multiple spreadsheets to track very similar metrics- needing to update one sheet, taking that information and entering it into another sheet and so on… This process is common yet leaves ample room for human error, often feels repetitive and is easily solved. For example, the change or elimination of some of these redundant spreadsheets would save a world of time and error but nobody thought to change the process…it was inherited, learned and acted upon- no questions asked.

I challenge you to not shy away from an opportunity to revamp a process you inherited, or comment below and share an experience of your own. Try to look outside the box for alternative methods and to challenge the ‘why’ behind some of the processes you encounter that strike you as improvable. Remember, the fresh perspective you have when you enter a company fades quickly, and when we don’t ask questions or make suggestions right away we often loose these opportunities to improve. Don’t be afraid to think big picture even with the smallest of tasks; value your time and take in to account the opportunity cost not being as efficient and effective as you could!

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