We are still developing our employee manual, Our Dogma, as it is a continuing work in progress. It has been a hard balance between being a new and growing business that is just figuring out its processes, and also ensuring we have the procedures in place to ensure things go smoothly. We have experienced great growth over the past few years with the opening of our second location and expansion of our services, but it has been filled with challenges. The majority of these challenges could have been avoided with better documentation of processes. If you are just starting out, save yourself the time and begin documenting all of your processes as you create them. If you have been operating for some time and feel overwhelmed, have challenges holding your team accountable and/or are in the midst of expansion, you must ensure you have your procedures documented.
A good employee manual provides your team with clear instructions on how to complete their job effectively and in an efficient manner. It outlines the day to day operations and also enables seamless training and ensures procedures and processes are available to anyone who may need them. As a small business, we typically have key employees who store a lot of how the day to day operations happen within their own minds ( as business owners we are often the worst for this)! I always think of the what if myself or that person gets hit by a bus? Do we have the documentation in place to seamlessly transfer someone else into that role?
Outlining processes allows you to delegate roles, hold your team accountable to the work they do based on these procedures and helps to ensure things are completed to the standard you set. They should provide clear instruction to avoid confusion and any miscommunication. It also helps with training new team members and keeps everyone on the same page. Your team will appreciate having clear steps and knowing what is expected of them.
The employee manual should provide the history of company, its products and services, the team structure, core values and procedures and processes for all areas. You should include a list of fireable offences and outline the dismissal process. You want to put as much information on the business as possible to avoid miscommunication and keep expectations clear.
I know it is a daunting process, but going through it this past year has taught me a great deal about my business and my team. It has shown me key areas where I can delegate, services or departments that require restructuring, which employees may be struggling or exceling and given me a better understanding of why, and shown me the required organization structure of dogma. A thorough employee manual is also important if you plan to sell or franchise your business.
Growth was excellent for dogma, but also brought on new problems for me. Going though this process is showcasing what I need to develop and what we are doing right. It has also given me better knowledge on how to effectively plan for growth. Having more systems in place and ensuring all operations are documented, will allow for more successful growth in our future.
The end of one year and the beginning of a new year is an exciting time and it should be for all entrepreneurs. Take advantage of the quieter holidays if your company slows down and review your past year. Set goals for the new year and focus on streamlining your business. Do not forget to delegate this to your team! Have them help you by getting them to document their daily duties. This can be a great team building activity. You will see an immediate benefit, and you and your team will be thankful for it!
I am looking at joining a program for further streamlining my business and my role for dogma. If I do, I will share my experiences here!
What benefits have you gained from streamlining your systems or what challenges have you had because things were not well documented? Share any feedback, ideas or stories in the comments below!