Cultivating a Process-Driven Business that Champions Employee Innovation and Growth
Mita Srinivasan
10X People

Cultivating a Process-Driven Business that Champions Employee Innovation and Growth

Giving people space for innovation, creativity, and strategic thinking is essential for long-term growth, allowing you to stay agile in a changing market. In this piece exclusively to SME10X, Vuk Zlatarov, Co-Founder & CEO of Poddster shares his insights into how a clear structure and processes increase efficiency, help staff understand their role, and cultivate a strong workplace culture.

Entrepreneurs often debate whether process-driven or people-driven businesses have the best chances of success. Both have their benefits, but in my experience, you shouldn’t have to choose. The most effective approach is to strike a balance between the two, allowing you to create strong operational foundations while developing a motivated, highly engaged team.

Giving people space for innovation, creativity, and strategic thinking is essential for long-term growth, allowing you to stay agile in a changing market. Equally, having a clear structure and processes increases efficiency, helps staff understand their role, and cultivates a strong workplace culture.

The human factor

Process-driven businesses implement systematic procedures with the aim of ensuring consistency, quality, and scalability. These processes guide teams through the complexities of daily operations and provide a blueprint for expansion. They allow team members to stay focused by providing the necessary steps to achieve the company’s goals. Some worry that focusing on processes might overshadow the human element and turn employees into mere executors of tasks. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Systems aren’t only about enhancing operational efficiency. They are also about establishing a solid foundation that supports your most valuable asset — your people. If you build a well-designed, process-driven environment it can significantly enhance job satisfaction. Clarifying roles, expectations, and workflows means staff tend to struggle a lot less with the ambiguity and frustrations that can arise in less structured settings. This clarity empowers them to take action and contribute more effectively to the overall vision. To cultivate a thriving, process-driven workplace, you need to involve your team members in developing and refining those processes from the start. That way, you can ensure your procedures meet the team’s needs, fostering a culture of collaboration and mutual respect.

Standardising service delivery

From the start of Poddster, we knew that the only way to guarantee customer satisfaction was to design and build a standardised service delivery model. Customers remember how you make them feel; therefore, customer experience is a top priority, and that experience needs to be consistent.We involved our staff in creating the model to encourage accountability. We also make sure they know why following procedures is important for the company’s success and, in turn, their success. We use incentive schemes to reward employees for their impact; some incentives are financially based, whereas others focus on developing a sense of belonging and providing personal and professional growth opportunities. As we have expanded locally and internationally, we’ve ensured that our customers know exactly what to expect; they receive the same standardised service, which leads to high customer retention and a happy team.

The Japanese automotive manufacturer Toyota is renowned for its Toyota Production System (TPS), a prime example of a process-driven approach that values the human element. TPS prioritises the principles of lean manufacturing, continuous improvement, and respect for its people. Employees are involved in problem-solving and process improvement initiatives, giving team members a voice and the opportunity to contribute to the company's success. This system not only revolutionised the automotive industry by significantly reducing waste and improving quality and productivity but also created a work environment that fosters employee satisfaction and engagement. Many credit it for Toyota’s ability to maintain high levels of quality and innovation.

Emirates Airlines is another good example that stands out for seamlessly integrating rigorous operational processes with a strong emphasis on employee well-being. Known for superior service, Emirates not only focuses on operational excellence but also invests in its people, offering extensive training and encouraging feedback to refine processes. This approach ensures high safety standards and customer satisfaction while fostering a positive work culture. By balancing process efficiency with employee engagement, Emirates has become a leading, global award-winning aviation employer.

Aligning people and process

To create a process-driven, employee-centric model, you need to set an example as a leader by displaying the values you wish to see and demonstrating a commitment to both the company's processes and its people. This involves not just dictating procedures but listening, adapting, and continuously improving these processes in response to team feedback.

Running a process-driven business that people enjoy working in is absolutely attainable, but it requires a deliberate effort to balance the rigidity of processes with the ability to stay flexible when faced with changing human needs. In doing so, you can enable an environment where efficiency and employee satisfaction reinforce each other, leading to sustainable growth and success.

If you feel like the balance of your business is tipping more to one side than the other, consider the following: are your processes designed with your team’s well-being in mind? Are your employees engaged and empowered to work within these systems? Embracing a process-driven approach that values people as much as performance is the first step towards designing a thriving workplace where everyone can excel.

About the author:

Vuk Zlatarov is the CEO and co-founder of Poddster, a pioneering network of video podcast production studios and Dubai’s first podcasting community. He is also the Managing Partner of Creitive Ventures, a venture builder focused on product acceleration and go-to-market routes for early-stage ideas with hubs in APAC, MENA and Europe.