Stop Looking for Best Practices
Best practices are something leaders have been implementing into their companies for years, but how does it affect your team? Learn more from reading this.
As leaders, it is our job to ensure that our teams are running effectively. Part of this is implementing the right processes into our ways of working to ensure that.
Unfortunately, we have a term that puts a name to those processes which bring about the best outcome. They are known as the “best ways of practice”. In most cases, leaders of different departments get together to standardise these practices.
After all, if these practices are known as the best to use, then it would be silly not to make them mandatory. We all want our teams and organisations to be running with the best to ensure maximum output.
However, this term has come about from the human nature of believing we can figure things out completely. Thanks to our curious nature, we can ask big questions and often address them in a good way. But we get caught up with making these answers to our problems beliefs that can not be challenged.
We tend to want to extrapolate these answers out and believe they can explain lots of things. We do this with science, and religion does this too. Business is not exempt from this type of behaviour, and we see it take its form in best practices.
Although standardised ways of working bring many benefits, best practices is a phrase that can do more damage than good in our businesses. Yes, they provide a baseline to the things that work and allow for healthy output, but they should never be held with such esteem.
I know leaders who constantly seek to implement “best ways of working” into their companies. They are often rewarded for their great work and value for their team. However, these leaders also create rigid working environments and can often limit the potential of their team.
So, here is why best ways of working is a term I have stopped using in my leadership. And here is why I do not look for the best methods of practice either.
The Best Continues to Change
It is essential to understand that business is not a game that can be won over a long spell.
Of course, we can measure the performance of a company within a time span, but that does not mean they won. That just means that they are the best performing at that specific time. The world of business is turbulent, and leaders should know this. So, why do we think our best today will be the same tomorrow?
We have even seen in the current pandemic large organisations fail due to a lack of adaptability. Much of the stores on the high street were left in a struggle as people could no longer shop. Despite many stores moving to better online solutions, some were bold enough to keep their “best practices” going.
As a result, they were left behind, and some were left to never come back. It is a matter of fact that leaders can not navigate the landscape of business through seeking out “best practices”. After all, they continue to change, and we should allow them to.
Leaders can spend a lot of their time trying to streamline processes and make everything efficient. However, this only leads to their team holding the false belief that what they are doing is the best thing to do. It dims their mind and stops them from asking questions.
For some leaders, best practices are the best way to control their team. Like a programmer, they can code their team with best practices, and their team will go off and do it.
Before I get carried away, I do think standardised ways of working can provide some good benefits. It reduces confusion, allows for synchronised working and increases the output of everyone. But it is essential to understand that with these practices comes the weakness of false beliefs.
When your team believe that they are doing everything in the best way, they will no longer seek to do anything different. So, when it is time for the best to change, your team may be resistant to it and even worse, be stuck in their ways.
When we say best ways of practice, what we really mean is good methods for today. We must understand that those methods are subject to change as time requires them to do so.
We Should Give Room for the Best to Get Better
As a leader, I have found that my team operate best when they are told to make things better. It is human to want to see the improvement of things, especially when we have a part in it.
Creating standardised processes for our team to follow and calling them “best practices” does nothing for them. It keeps them closed in a box and stops them from asking the right questions.
As leaders, we need to have the desire to want our ways of working to be questioned. We need to be vulnerable enough to say to our team that we want their feedback and suggestions. We are not only there to improve our team, but they are there to improve us.
Calling things best practices leaves very little room for improvement. It appears that the answer is already perfect, and there is nothing else that needs to be done. But business is not a short term game. And as leaders, we should constantly be looking to progress our ways of working.
Therefore, I have stopped saying “best” next to anything. Now I say ways of practice and ways of doing things. For me, there is no best way. Instead, there are many ways and one optimal solution at that time.
Giving our teams the landscape to explore different ways of doing things allows for better ideas. And these can help make the “best” even better.
Progress does not come from believing that we are the best. It comes from acknowledging that we can become better. Even in our own lives, we can only progress by accepting our current faults.
So, I challenge you as a leader to change your outlook. Start approaching your strategies with a mindset that allows for flexibility and vulnerability. It is through doing so that we can always allow our best to keep getting better.
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.