Using Visual Cues to give Quick, Clear Guidance

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Improving Systems
  4. /
  5. Using Visual Cues to give Quick, Clear Guidance

As a business owner, how many times have you been frustrated with the time it takes a team member to complete a task or forgetting a critically important step in the process, like billing a client for time?

Usually, this is based on an assumption that because it is important to you, or because you know it, everyone else will know it. Sadly experience tells us this isn’t the case. It is critical to have clear and concise systems and processes in place to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. Part of creating concise systems and processes is including important information, and in the following examples includes the expected time it should take to complete a task, the need for PPE or the need to bill clients for time worked. Remember, just because it is obvious to you, does not mean it is obvious to your team.

Brain in a Box suggests using straightforward visual signals in clients’ systems and procedures, which can convey a substantial amount of information at a glance.

Suppose we consider the case of cleaning a cement mixer in a company that manufactures moulded cement products. A new employee named Bill was assigned the duty of cleaning the cement mixer without any clear instruction. He worked tirelessly all morning, using a hammer and a cold chisel to scrub every crevice, thinking that this was the expected level of effort. Nonetheless, when his supervisor approached him at lunchtime, she discovered that Bill had devoted an excessive amount of time to the task.

What Bill should have had from his boss was the system clearly outlining the steps and time allowed to complete the task of cleaning the cement mixer. What the business owner should do next time, is incorporate visual cues, as the ones above, in order to clearly which would have prevented Bill from feeling ashamed, saved the supervisor from becoming annoyed, and reduced expenses for the company. Consider the potential cumulative effect of saving time, money, and boosting morale across all employees. The benefits would increase exponentially.

This situation highlights the importance of setting clear expectations for how long a task should take. In this case, the supervisor explained to Bill that cleaning the cement mixer should only take 15 minutes using a few simple steps. By setting this clear expectation, Bill was able to complete the task more efficiently in the future.

In addition to setting expectations for time, it is also crucial to wear the mandated PPE. In the case of the cement mixer, the business realised that they needed to specify the necessary PPE, in addition to the expected time and method for cleaning the mixer.

Another example is Julie, a junior lawyer who kept forgetting what tasks had to be billed to the firm’s clients. As this was continuing to cost the firm and even senior lawyers were getting this wrong, the system and training was updated. We advised the firm to include the following visual cues at the top of each workflow page, to ensure there was no more confusion as to what tasks were billable.

  1. Record all billable time for client tasks
  2. Record every task in your calendar so others can check your availability
  3. Update Leap (Legal Software) with every billable task or note

As you can see, this simple tip ensures all of this additional information in the form of visual cues, your team is able to quickly receive important information at a glance. It is important for business owners to take the time to evaluate their processes and ensure that they are providing their employees with the best information to complete tasks to meet their expectations. This will ultimately improve productivity, reduce errors and improve employee morale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed