Every two weeks I sit down and sort out my mother's pills into a pill case. I do the same thing for myself, but it's a much different thing. I only have two prescription pills; everything else is a supplement. Mom has 6 prescription pills, some two a day, some only morning, some only evening. She also has a number of other things she has to take; aspirin, acetaminophen, Vitamin D... other stuff.

I had to create a list to keep it all together. Even though I know that one mistake won't throw her off the rails, a couple of pills are really important. One is her sleeping pill; that's important because if Mom doesn't sleep, no one sleeps. Another is for her dementia; if I miss that one she's wildly unpredictable during the daylight hours and we're all stressed when she's stressed.

It didn't take a whole lot of planning to put together the initial list. I've been doing this for close to 2 years, even though she's only lived with me coming up on one year. There have been modifications in the list, as some pills have been pulled and others added. The process is set up so that if I'm not around my wife can easily put them together, and the list is such that making changes is fairly fluid.

When I address the topic of processes and procedures as it relates to leadership, it's things like this I'm talking about. Even though nothing's perfect or runs perfect every time, these things help others know what to do and learn how to modify when it becomes necessary.

There are things we do daily that never change, which is where procedures come in handy. There are processes that might change from time to time, or from customer to customer, and having an understanding of the procedures helps employees overcome almost anything that alters their norm.

It also allows leaders to modify procedures when necessary, especially if they have the confidence in their employees and enough humility to understand that no matter how much they know, it's the employees who often discover issues that management might not have thought of.

If I can use the pill case analogy, this is how it all comes together:

1. By putting all the pills together two weeks in advance, it eliminates a lot of unnecessary time doing it daily and increases the time I need to do other things, including addressing my mother's needs.

When management puts together procedures and processes, it not only gives employees a reference tool but it helps teach and train new employees quicker.

2. By having the pills written down by dose and when they need to be dispersed, I don't have to be the only one doing it. It also helps my wife put the pills together if I miss putting them together for one reason or another.

By having procedures and processes written down, higher level leaders don't have to respond to every question that comes along if it's already part of the norm. If there are supervisors or team leaders involved, they can take over answering some of those questions while also being the ones to rain new employees.

3. By putting the pills together two weeks in advance, I know when it's time to call in a prescription refill instead of being surprised at the last minute and not being able to get the pills when needed. This is needed because almost none if the pills run out at the same time.

By having procedures and processes written and a well trained staff, you'll find that they're able to handle almost anything that comes up because they know what to do ahead of time. If they've given the authority to take care of most issues, you'll boost their confidence and encourage them to be more involved in the process.

Leadership lessons by putting pills in a pill case; what will they think of next?