The reason people don’t read procedures is very simple: they don’t feel that they add any value.

The strong impression your staff probably have is that someone who knows nothing about their job wrote the procedures, and if they want to do their job properly, they should ignore them.

So how do you solve that problem?

Well there are two approaches that work really well.

The first is to get your staff to write their own procedures. They may need some training (after all, writing is like any skill, you have to learn how to do it properly), but in the end they’ll come up with something that they believe in.

And as a bonus they’ll police other staff, and make sure that they read and follow the procedures.

The second approach is to bring in a professional writer or business analyst to write the procedures, but give them the budget and the time to involve your staff in the development.

You can use a number of techniques like a group flowcharting session, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Just get everyone who need to be involved in the same room with a whiteboard and start developing a flowchart.

By getting the staff involved in writing the procedures, but using an outside to do it, you get something that your people are actually invested in, and that is clearly written.

So the secret with either of these approaches is to have people personally invested in the material you’re giving them to use, so that they know the content relates to what they actually do for a living, not just something cobbled together to avoid lawsuits.