Consistently excellent documentation is a key ingredient to operational success. With the technology and tools employed in most of our organizations, it is easier to collect and easier to manage than ever before.
We could open a debate and consider that the needs and amount of documentation has increased, but the reality is that in context of the demands, logistics, and complexities of the industry, it is probably one of the least complicated tasks and yet I believe the source of much frustration within companies. Service, cashflows, efficiency, communications, company credibility, and more can suffer from even a blip in basic documentation.
I am a believer in and educator of documentation in our industry. As a Restoration Poet (not sure that is a thing?), my first poem was an Ode to Documentation:
Can cause much frustration
Pictures & notes are the key
As you do restoration with great glee
If it is a water job
The data and readings you must log
Do not SKIP
Or you will have a blip
Thorough and complete
Will make your company
Hard to beat
Documentation – URGHHH!
Why? Why? Why is it so difficult to get everyone in the organization 100% consistent in meeting the company’s documentation best practices? Before you get excited that I have the ultimate solution, I absolutely do not.
Assuming there exists a foundation for a solid documentation system, why does it remain one of the longest standing pain points in our industry? Consider these foundation points:
- Engaged team that is committed to excellence.
- Systems and infrastructure to gather, store, and organize the documentation.
- Expectations are clearly defined and communicated based on both functions and positions.
- Management of the documentation is proactive. We celebrate good documentation, maintain accountability systems, “inspect what we expect” and employ all the rules of effective management and leadership.
- Organizational awareness of how the various pieces of documentation, the timely collection, and the recording of the document impacts the workflows, functions, and different people/positions within the organization.
As I pondered, could it just be that is the “least favorite” thing of many? After all, we all have things we do not like to do. I truly love my work but still have some tasks that I simply do not enjoy, but must get done. Is it this simple?
As I began to research, I found many articles and even studies on the concept of procrastination. When people do not do a simple task, it is often just a form procrastination. Procrastination can have a variety of root causes. I now believe that most of the struggles to get consistent results in meeting company documentation best practices likely stem back to two main issues:
- Aversion to the task. It is simply a thing many in our industry do not like and this triggers procrastination in executing the task. The minutes needed to do this suddenly become impossible to find in the day.
- Avoidance of the task. The avoidance issue may be kicking in when there are complexities, issues, or a challenging customer and someone just wants to avoid the entire job or situation.
Assuming all the ingredients for all members of the team to successfully comply with company documentation expectations exists and continued struggle to get consistent results remains, it may be that we are trying to put “rational solutions to an irrational, emotional problem.”
“Procrastination is an avoidant way of coping,” Sirois said. “How do I manage uncomfortable feelings around that paperwork I have to do? I know, I’ll put the task aside and feel better about it. Ah, I feel better already. You just managed your mood by procrastinating.”
Sirois who studies procrastination goes on to make the point that: But the problem is that those are rational solutions to an irrational, emotional problem. Sirois said that yes, “you can make your environment what I call ‘less procrastinogenic.’ But don’t think that’s going to be the solution.”
(For a little more insight, check out: 'Why Do I Spend Weeks Avoiding Tasks That Will Take Me 10 Minutes to Do?')
Bad and or inconsistent documentation in our companies is not an option. I offer the following thoughts for overcoming this challenge:
- Discipline: Those with extreme discipline in their work ethic can overcome emotional responses to their work and other personal and professional distractions. Emphasize and develop the competency of discipline and the value of mental fortitude.
- Change the emotion: Switch the negative emotion/feeling to a positive emotion/feeling. Perhaps there is an opportunity to make it “fun” and evoke positive emotional responses. Rewards, parties, and other creative solutions may be awaiting some brainstorming in your company.
- Face the facts: The reality is that we may not like it. It may not be our favorite thing. It simply must be done thoroughly and accurately. It is not an option. Are we Clear?
If you have a strong and thriving operation and still struggle with getting your team fully engaged to comply with documentation best practices, you are not alone; do not give up. If you have achieved the ultimate goals of documentation, share your success stories and tips in the comment section below.
Happy Restoring and Documentation Success!