Waste in Disguise in HR Processes – Policy Exceptions

If you’ve spent any time at all in Continuous Improvement training, you know about waste. Waste is not just the stuff you throw away, but it is anything you lost as well. The time spent repairing a machine for the same failure is waste, especially if there is an opportunity to design a permanent solution to the failure mode. Off-spec product made while a machine is starting up or slowing down is waste, as is the time spent making it.

Waste comes in many forms, and is frequently in disguise.

Those who aren’t accountable for the HR function frequently feel that their time is wasted in HR processes. They are certain they could do a simpler and quicker evaluation, that three-hundred-sixty degree feedback didn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, and that they could get a new employee in place and trained far faster than we could do it.

At the same time, they don’t realize how much waste they create.

  • The waste created when they want a policy exception. Policies are written and processes put in place for smooth transactions. Exceptions require people step out of doing their regular work to hear the case and make a decision. “I need this person now! We can’t wait on the background check. Besides, he’s my wife’s second cousin.” Waste.
  • The waste created when the wife’s second cousin does something inappropriate in the workplace, like trying to sell drugs. The time spent in managing all the concerns of employees who thought we did a better job of checking people ahead of time. Waste.
  • The waste created in explaining to corporate what happened, and in working with communications team members to manage the local press questions about the drug problem at your facility.

That waste.

If your policies and processes include how to manage exceptions, you might want to look at the logic of that. But if you like putting out fires, then waste is your friend. You won’t improve your business much, but you will be busy.

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