Reclaim Your Time and Refine Your Business Processes

We hear all about the importance of having a business process—a valuable asset, no doubt.

But should you create and have any kind of process? What should your process be based on? The work you do? Or maybe your core values?

In this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast with Dr. Jeremy Weisz, he features Tamara Kemper, owner of The Process Mavens, a company that helps business owners declutter their time by documenting their processes and delegating their daily tasks.

Tamara Kemper speaks on why and how you should base your business processes on your core company values, the positive impact it has, and the signs you should look out for to know if your business process is broken. 

She shares the ways she helped her past clients declutter time, how to overcome the hurdle of process documentation, and how to jump through process bottlenecks.

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Show Notes:

0:05 – Podcast introduction

0:51 – Dr. Weisz shares the best solution for documenting standard operating procedures, SweetProcess, highlighting a 14-day free trial.

1:40 – The guest speaker, Tamara Kemper, is introduced.

2:23 – The guest talks about the importance of starting your process development with your company’s core values.

4:08 – Kemper shares a factual example of infusing core values into a company’s process with a past client.

6:43 – Kemper shares the steps she takes when including values to the process of a company.

9:00 – The guest speaks on what keeps some CEOs’ minds boggled and the solution.

10:18 – The speaker shares the ways she helped home health care providers improve time wastage by infusing core values into their processes.

13:25 – The guest also shares how she helped a sign manufacturing company streamline their processes.

14:17 – Kemper shares the signs that show your company’s process is broken.

18:31 – The guest talks about the things that CEOs find hard to let go of and a way around it.

20:07 – Kemper shares the measures you need to put in place to prevent CEOs from overstepping.

21:47 – The guest speaker shares the tools she uses for smooth business operations.

24:14 – The guest speaker gives examples of educators becoming entrepreneurs like herself.

25:51 – Kemper shares the first steps companies should take when documenting processes.

29:01 – Outro

Guest Profile:

Tamara Kemper is the founder of The Process Mavens, a company that helps business owners in delegating tasks and improving their business process and documentation in a way that their customers get the same experience as if they'd done the work themselves. With 16 years of leadership and classroom experience in public education and ed-tech companies, Kemper has mastered the art of showing up and showing out when it comes to streamlining processes.

Tamara Kemper is the founder of The Process Mavens, a company that helps business owners in delegating tasks and improving their business process and documentation in a way that their customers get the same experience as if they’d done the work themselves.

With 16 years of leadership and classroom experience in public education and ed-tech companies, Kemper has mastered the art of showing up and showing out when it comes to streamlining processes.

Transcript of the interview:

narrator: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now let’s get started with the show.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weiss here, host of the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your staff everything they need to be successful in their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many more, so check out other episodes. This episode, before I get you today’s guest, who is basically all about getting things done for you. So this episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. If you’ve had team members ask you the same questions over and over and over again Tamra, you don’t experience any of that with what you do, right? And it’s the 10th time you spent explaining it. There is a better way SweetProcess as a software that makes it drop that easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: When I was talking to Owen, he told me, not only do universities, banks, hospitals, software companies use them, but first responder government agency use them in life or death situations. I’m like, “Owen that’s something we should tell people. That’s pretty cool”. You know, people use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time. So you can focus on growing your team. You can sign up it’s a 14 day free trial, no credit card required. sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy. S W E E T process.com.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Now I’m excited to introduce today’s guest Tamara Kemper, is the founder of the process Mavens, or she helps CEOs get their time back by helping them delegate the day-to-day work, that they’re stuck in. I feel like [inaudible 00:01:46]. Every CEO, like we know and after 16 years of leadership and classroom experience in both public education at tech companies, she accidentally became an expert in getting things done, because you have to be organized to do those things. And she quickly learns how your business works. She helps you get organized using simple online tools and teaches you how to keep it that way. And you know, she’s got a lot of different clients, CEOs, some are educators turn entrepreneurs. So Tamara, thanks for joining me.

Tamara Kemper: Thank you so much for having me, Jeremy. I’m happy to be here.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: There is so many places to start and one we will get to, which is interesting enough where you talk about core values, okay. And importance of starting with your core values to design and prove your processes. I’ve never really thought about it that way. So I love for you to talk about that.

Tamara Kemper: Yeah, absolutely. I think core values, I have so many clients who think, they’re cheesy when I first meet them. Just the very words, just make them cringe almost, that they’re just…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You picture like, happiness, power [crosstalk 00:00:02:52].type of things.

Tamara Kemper: Yeah. And like, everybody’s kind of sound the same, it’s just their words. And so I actually agree with that in the way that many or perhaps most companies, implement them and the way that you get them out of the cheese and out of the things that don’t even mean anything, is by infusing them intentionally, into how you operate your business on the day-to-day. And so the only way that you can do that, is if you actually know how things happen on the day to day. And so that’s all about getting clear on your processes and making sure that the same things are happening each and every time. You can get away with this for a while off, of just having really awesome people that just embody your core values. And so that’s great. And so until that person leaves you’re set, but if that person leaves who’s working with your clients or your customers and they embody your core values, now you’re starting back at square one. So you have to start intentionally map out your process, injecting those core values into it.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. I love that. You talk about that because a lot of times, it could be just a poster on the wall or something that no one really follows. So talk about what will be an example of a core value, of a company you worked with, and then how is infused into some process. Because if someone’s using it, it’s automatically there, they’re experiencing it and they’re living it. So what’s an example that you can give us, that they had this core value and this was the process that was infused.

Tamara Kemper: Well, I can give you a really simple one. So one of my clients is a home health care group. And so they send people into people’s homes and take care of them. And one of their core values was caring, which could be totally just one of those words on the wall because you don’t really know. And so as we were reverse engineering their processes, and trying to come up with ways to inject caring into the process really intentionally, one of the ways we came up with was having a note, that you could leave with the family when you would leave. And you would just leave some sort of caring note that let the person know that, you were thinking about them or were just left them with something special and that’s not hard and it’s not complicated, but it is a process. And it’s something that they weren’t doing before. And now that is happening every time.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. I love that, because we can look at whatever the core values are. And I bet there those companies that you work with, other companies you work with that don’t have any core values and they’re like, well, do you help figure that out with them which, was super valuable too. They thought they were just hiring to get those stuff off your plate. No. You’re were going to actually make sure we get your core values out.

Tamara Kemper: Absolutely well it’s either that it’s either they don’t have them or they have like 20 of them, and which is almost worse than having none, because when you have 20, they’re not really your core values because you can’t possibly focus on that many things. And so just having a handful of things that really make you different, make you unique as a company. And it tends to be reflective of some of the people in your company, who those people are and what they bring and what makes them special. But if we can distill those out and we do help our clients distill out what their core values are, if they don’t have any and then really intentionally building those in. Not only into the process itself, but into how you’re training your team on how to do those things as well.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Now I’m curious, when you do that process, are you thinking of their core values as you’re writing the process, or do you write the processes and then you’re like, how do we plug in the core values after?

Tamara Kemper: Yeah, so we are mindfully. So my team, we’re all always keeping them on the page as we’re documenting or as we’re coming up with the process, but we always circle back to make sure, okay, did we? And not every process is going to have every core value, that’s fine. But if you’re at least thinking about it and you’re taking the moment, when you’re drafting your processes or when you’re coming up with them to say, “okay, are we embodying this”? So first of all, that has to be a yes. Every single process, your four or five core values that you have should be embodied, or at least should not be violated by your process.

Tamara Kemper: So if there’s something that’s violating one of your core values, you need to stop and fix right away. But then second, are there opportunities in this process to just like kick it up a notch to just make it a little bit more, so that your clients are just going to feel that really palpable. I mean, that’s when you talk about these people in the world, these businesses in the world that are the best and the brand of customer service, things like Zappos, the things that they do, aren’t accidental. The experience that people are having on the other side of that phone call, it’s because they put in place standards or policies or processes to make sure that that happens every single time. So just looking for those opportunities [crosstalk 00:08:16]. I’m excited about these things.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I think you have a trademark on your hand, that I want you to put on your website, which is like process infused core values or something…

Tamara Kemper: Oh I like it.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: … and the tagline is something like the only way, you can actually get your team deliver your core values, is to have Tamara’s process infused core values, or maybe I’m doing the reverse, core values infused processes, whatever way it works…

Tamara Kemper: Either way it sounds…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: But I feel like it’s really fundamental and everyone wants their team in their company, they want the stuff off the plate and they want the process, but they also want their team and company living their core values.

Tamara Kemper: Well, I find that this, when you really boil it down to what keeps, at least the CEOs that I work with up at night, it’s that fear that their clients are not getting the experience that they would give, if they were there. Or perhaps even the fear that their employees are not getting the experience, that if they were managing them directly, that they would want them to have. And so when you can kind of go through and make sure, okay, so let’s talk about that. Like my management processes, are my businesses management processes in alignment with our core values, are my employees are my people that are talking direct line with my customers, are they getting the kind of treatment and the kind of experience that I would want them to have? And hopefully you hire good managers, but you know, everybody has room to grow and in room to learn. And so being intentional about baking those things in super important.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: They have to be because like, if you and your process that you leave a handwritten note, it’s like it’s in the process. So, that’s just what you do. And even if someone’s caring, you may not think to do that if it’s not in the process. Right. So it’s super important. So thanks for sharing that example. And let’s talk a little bit about the home healthcare provider, because they had to do a lot of pivoting. Every business, it doesn’t matter what you’re in, you have to revamp things, you have to revamp your systems, your orientation, everything. So talk about some of the ways you were able to help the home health provider in what’s going on.

Tamara Kemper: Sure. Well, to start, they did not have core values to start. However, they had a very strong culture, because as I said, they had great people. They’d hired great people who were ambassadors of what they wanted their culture to be, and what their core values were deep down. And so distilling those out and really defining those really wasn’t too hard because it was very clear, these are the things that we embody. So that was a big piece of the foundation, but we’ve done a lot of different things. Most recently, their hiring process, obviously was affected by COVID. So they used to have, 20 to 30 interviews in the office, people coming into become caregivers every single week, and coming in and filling out their little handwritten application and turning it in and going through that whole thing. Well, obviously that couldn’t continue.

Tamara Kemper: And thankfully, just before that, we had implemented it entire new recruiting and hiring process, and a new caregiver onboarding and training process. So everything from the very first time that a caregiver applies, all the way through when they get trained, which does have to be done hands-on, face-to-face because of the nature of the work, but we revamped all of that. So we moved all of the application things online, we made it so that the team who was looking at all of the applications, was doing it in a collaborative and systematic way using software. So everybody can see when things are scheduled. Everyone can see what status the caregiver is in, in terms of their hiring process. Have they turned in all their documents? Have they done all these things? These were things that they were doing manually. So this is a wonderful successful company, but they were using so many steps and manual checks and rechecks and checking on each other. It was just wasting a ton of time.

Tamara Kemper: So saving that has saved their sanity. It’s also obviously made them a lot safer, as not having so many people that they’re in contact with. So we revamped, as I said, their training program as well. So we help them make sure that their training program was aligned to their core values as well. So teaching those explicitly, so telling those caregivers here are our core values, here is how that looks when you’re at the home with our clients. And here’s how you can embody those things, and then evaluating them, not only on the skills that they need to demonstrate, but on the core values and whether or not they seem to be in alignment, which you can’t always tell 100% during that hiring onboarding process. But if you’re intentional about how you’re looking for those things, you’ll at least catch more than you would if you weren’t.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally. And then there was another company, a sign manufacturing company. What did they need from you originally?

Tamara Kemper: Yeah. So for them it was, it was similar actually. So a lot of manual processes, a lot of communication through email and just popping your head in or quick phone call. When you’re constantly checking statuses of things, to see where things are, that is a sign that there’s a system that’s broken. Because ideally you should know where things are, in your business. You should know the status of all of your projects or all of your widgets or whatever you do. And so for them, it was really just a matter of let’s eliminate all of those check-ins, let’s eliminate the need to have any paper things. And we moved their entire operations from papers, whiteboards, and check-in pop in meetings, completely digital created a business playbook essentially, for how to operate the business. And the owner was able to pretty much remove herself from the business. She just is able to kind of oversee what’s going on and make sure that it’s all going to pass, but somebody else has completely taken over her role. So it’s been pretty life-changing for her.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So Tammy, talk about that for a second. So you mentioned that’s a sign, your systems are broken. Okay, I won’t pigeonhole you into three, five, seven, 10, but what are a few signs? So one is, you’re on something constantly. It means you don’t have a system for it. There should be some system or someone checks it, and you can see it and everyone can view it. What’s another common sign, that you see that someone’s systems are broken.

Tamara Kemper: So this might be controversial.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I Like controversial.

Tamara Kemper: It’s probably not. If you’re emailing internally, I find that most companies can completely eliminate their internal emails. You can’t get away from it with your clients, but completely, or with outside people. But with internally, there are so many wonderful systems that can consolidate communication and make it contextual, in whatever you’re working on and just save so much time. So my dream, is someday all businesses are no longer using email to communicate internally.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What are some of the tools you like?

Tamara Kemper: We love monday.com. We love Smartsheet.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Mondays… What is it, Smartsheet?

Tamara Kemper: Yeah. Project management, just project management tools are great for this. We use Slack.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: When do you see a use case someone should use Slack over Monday or Monday over Slack or, or both?

Tamara Kemper: I think you need both in most cases, because Slack is going to be more about chit-chat, or the specific context based conversations that need to be happening just ongoing throughout the day. Whereas something more like a project management tool, you’re going to be working on a specific project workflow.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Got it. So if you’re checking on something, it’s a sign?

Tamara Kemper: Correct.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You’re emailing internally, [crosstalk 00:16:34]. that’s a sign? What else is a sign that the systems are broken?

Tamara Kemper: The crazy shared spreadsheets? You’ll know, if you’ve got them. I would say also just any time, where the owner or the CEO, feels like they have to constantly play referee. So if you’re as the CEO, feeling like you need to referee and make every decision. That means that it doesn’t seem like a process issue, but there’s actually a structural problem, in terms of roles and responsibilities in the organization. And so that needs to actually get addressed first, who owns what, and who’s accountable for what in your business. But then there needs to be a process by which you’re able to communicate how things are going, because the reason a lot of times that that CEO can’t let go, is because they can’t see what’s going on. They’re fearful, or they may be in best intentions, they just want to give the answer to somebody who’s sitting in front of them and help them.

Tamara Kemper: But actually then that’s just continuing the problem. So if you can get your business structure set up in a way where you can put responsibility and trust on your team to make good decisions, and that they are clear on what they own and what they’re accountable for, then you can really start to let go of those things. And you know, if something goes wrong, it goes wrong, like if those things are going to happen. But if you have visibility in general into the what, what’s happening in your business, you’re going to not feel that pressure quite as much.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yep. And you know, a lot of people tend to call you. They’re like the CEO wants to take stuff off their plate, they feel like they’re overwhelmed. What’s something that the CEO has pushed back on that’s hard for them to let go? Is there something in particular that you have to, like a kid holding candy, you got to pry it away from them? No, you shouldn’t be doing this. You can’t do this, but is there something like that, that you see as a trend?

Tamara Kemper: It tends to be well, and this is, there’s probably other things, but the two things that pop into my mind right away, one of them is things with client issues. So if there’s client issues, client drama.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: They want to jump out.

Tamara Kemper: Uh huh. So those things, which I get it to some extent, but at some point you can’t do that forever. So those kinds of things. And then I would say the other thing is a lot of times the CEO started out doing a piece of the job or doing a piece of the business and they really loved it. They really, and maybe they do still love her. They have a passion for it. And…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Maybe the assigned manufacturer was like a graphic designer or something.

Tamara Kemper: Totally.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So they’re like, I still like doing it.

Tamara Kemper: I still like to do it, or I the last say I want to have… And they think that you can do that for a time, but I mean, hopefully your business is growing and scaling. You have to start putting in the structures, where you’re not the bottleneck anymore. And you know, to some degree it’s a personal preference. But for the most part, I would say most CEOs do need to work their way out of those specialized tasks.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. What’s a process you can remember, because I could totally see that there’s a client issue. There’s client drama. The CEO wants to step in. What’s something that you would recommend putting in place so that they don’t do that or they’re forced not to do it?

Tamara Kemper: Well. So let’s go back to our core values conversation. So if your front line employees are your employees that are working directly with clients are 100% clear on your core values, and they have standards or they have policies on how to handle those. And I’m not talking about making them a robot. By the way, when I talked about Zappos policy and I don’t know if this is still their policy, but like one of their policies was you could spend up to X dollars to resolve an issue, or there’s no cap on how long you can talk to someone on a phone call.

Tamara Kemper: Like those things send a really strong message to say, I’m not saying that everyone should do that, but that sends a strong message of here’s how we handle things here. So if your team is super clear on here’s how we handle things here, then you can trust that they’re doing it. Now, the other side of that is you need to be evaluating that they are in fact doing those things. So again, another process, this comes down to how you’re evaluating your employees and how you’re coaching them and how you’re intentionally making sure that they’re developing as professionals. But yeah, you have to put in good people in place, be clear about what you expect from them, measure it and evaluate it. And then you can start to let those things go.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Thank you. And Tamara, the tools wise, people love nifty tools, software, whatever. I’m curious if you have any secret weapons that like, maybe when you talk to a client, they’re like, “Oh, I’ve never heard of Slack”. I mean, I don’t know what are some secret tools in your toolbox, maybe there aren’t secret, but like to some business owners, maybe they’ve never heard of them, to you that’s normal. Like you just like, “Oh yeah, Monday.” And I’d be like, “I don’t know what Monday is”. Are there any interesting tools or software that you want to give a shout out to or recommend?

Tamara Kemper: You know one of my favorite random softwares is this one called, Text Expander.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s my favorite of all time.

Tamara Kemper: Oh my gosh. Isn’t it amazing?

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yes.

Tamara Kemper: And it’s so it’s so simple and it’s not flashy, and maybe that’s why maybe everybody knows about it. I don’t know.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: No people don’t.

Tamara Kemper: But anyway Text Expander is amazing, because here’s what you can do. You can make a template for any piece of text you want, and then the best part is, you can put in blanks for where you want to add in custom information. So if you have an email that you send out again and again, and again, and again, it’s not just like you copy your template out of your Google doc and paste it in. You can just type in two letters, or whatever little keyword you come up with. And bloop it goes right in there and you just fill it in, saves so much time. And not just email, you can put the text anywhere,

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: The desktop app. Yeah. And, and it’s it minimizes errors, like you said, because if you have a blank and people there’s different, let’s say you’re quoting a price. Will you don’t have that in the temp. You don’t have that in there as the price. You could have to fill that in. So it’s going to maybe be different every time. So I feel like, people say to me, there was like, you should get stock in that company. Because I tell everyone I go out and buy, it’s like $4 a month. So I forgot what it is. That’s something crazy cheap. It’s like $30 for the year or something like that.

Tamara Kemper: Yeah. It’s great.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, totally.

Tamara Kemper: Because we waste a lot of time writing emails and writing and just writing things that we’ve written a million times. And this can be a really good hack too, just for any of your team too, you can actually share templates with your team. So if you have multiple people on your text expander account and you have like scripts or things you want to share, you can share those. So it’s pretty cool.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love it. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. That’s awesome. And so when I mentioned the front of the interview, educators turned entrepreneur, what’s an example of that?

Tamara Kemper: So I have a couple of clients right now, they came from schools. So they started out working in schools with kids, and a lot of times did not set out to be an entrepreneur. They didn’t leave schools or leave classrooms to go start a business, but they tried to solve a problem. And so, it’s a problem either for teachers or problem for kids, just problems that we know are out there. And my goodness just took off and, now all of a sudden, they’ve got this business that’s doing amazing. And I really find that these types of people seem to have a really good handle on what it looks like to lead, and to care for a team and to manage them, in a way that people really want to go along with you on your journey.

Tamara Kemper: They just don’t necessarily have the systems and the operation aspect of it. So it’s a really nice compliment, because if you already have those skills, if you already know really deeply what you care about, and you know how to talk to people and you know how to get your team to be onboard with you and excited. Once you implement the processes, man it’s just like magic. So those that’s been a really rewarding group of people to work with.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Tamara, so the CEOs out there, executives out there, teams are out there, where should they start with documenting their process? So what would be the first action step that we leave them with?

Tamara Kemper: Well, I think it can seem really daunting to document your processes when you see… Our businesses are so complex and there’s so many pieces to it. And so what I would tell someone, if you’re doing it yourself and you’re like, “where do I begin?” Start with the roles where you have the most people in that role, or you have the most turnover or the most potential growth. So meaning there’s a lot of people who are going to need to interact with this documentation. Start with that because you’re going to get the most bang for your buck on the time that you invest in it. So as you’re working out, all right, how should we answer the phone? I mean, just something as simple as that, how should we do a visit to someone’s home? What should the flow be now? Not only have I documented this process for one person, but now that affects five people and everybody else who comes after that.

Tamara Kemper: So I would say, start with those and just don’t worry about anything else, those roles should be. You should do them carefully because a lot of people are going to interact with that. So what I mean by carefully, as you want to really, you want to write step by step by step, what to do. Then once you get through or those roles, then I would go to ones where maybe, you’re most at risk if that one person leaves. So if you have somebody who does your payroll and that’s the only person that knows how to do payroll, and if something happens to them, Oh my goodness, what are we going to do? For those roles you can do it so quick and dirty. All you need to have that person do is pull up like a loom.com and record a video, and you’re done. Record a video for payroll, record a video for how to [inaudible 00:27:54].

Tamara Kemper: I can’t think of anything else, how to do billing, whatever it is. Don’t worry about obsessing of writing those out, like a process should be, doesn’t matter, you’re making an insurance policy. You’re making sure that if something happens, you’re okay. Or, Oh, by the way that person can go on vacation, that person can breathe and enjoy their life and not feel like if something happens that they’re, I know it’s a thing it’s a thing that people do or used to do. So, yeah. So I think about it in that order, start with the place where you’re going to make the most impact to your employees and to your clients. And then second go to the place where you’re maybe most at risk and just do those quickly and don’t obsess. Just let it be messy. Let it be imperfect.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love it. Everyone. Check out the processmavens.com to learn more. You can check out sweet process.com to learn more the software and Tamara, thank you so much.

Tamara Kemper: Thank you for having me.

narrator: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question. Do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14 day trial of sweet process. No credit card is required to sign up, go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy and process like process.com go now to sweetprocess.com and sign up for your risk-free 14 day trial.

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