Every small business needs a handbook. Whether it be 5 pages or 500 pages, whether you have 3 employees or 300, no matter your industry, a handbook will be your greatest asset.
When I first opened Virtue’s doors, I knew what I wanted in my Team. I figured I would simply hire talented people with positive attitudes, and it would all turn out okay. Although my team is impeccable, I recognized a need.
How could my Team know expectations exist if I did not define them?
I needed my Team to know what was expected of them in an objective way. Introduce: the handbook.
In the summer of 2011, I was on a road trip and read a book that was recommended to me by a friend, “The E-Myth Revisited.” Reading the book, I was so relieved that someone else felt disorganized and overloaded!
E-myth Revisited described how a handbook is used as a guide to streamline guest service procedures and general operations. It struck a nerve, so I ran with it for 6 months, working like crazy to create Virtue’s handbook.
When it was ready, I hosted a fun meeting with food and drinks and launched the new system to my Team; it changed my life and theirs!
What surprised me: Boundaries produce freedom! Structure produces freedom!
Having a structure relieved me from micro-managing, and it gave my Team an objective standard. My lists and guidelines outlined everything, such as how to make coffee, dress code, taking breaks at appropriate times, cell phone protocol, late policy and much more. I even created a checklist for the front desk so that everything went well at the beginning and end of the day.
As a business owner, it’s critical to know your standards and share those standards with employees, which all empowers you to meet the company’s standards.
When you start on your handbook, remember a few important pieces:
- Your handbook is always a work in progress: I update my handbook quarterly. As the business grows, sometimes the procedures change accordingly. Additionally, I update my Team on the handbook at our quarterly meeting held every January, April, July and October. They must know when things are changed, added or simplified, in order to maintain Virtue’s standards.
- Hold your Team accountable: You must apply the standards you create to your Team. If not, the structures you put in place will be useless!
- Make it your own: It is not necessary to make the policies and procedures of your business boring and mundane. It should reflect your company culture and brand. Our handbook is filled with color and stimuli that mirrors our business.
- Check with your attorney: A best practice is to have your attorney review your handbook and make sure that you are within all legal parameters.
Functioning with a handbook system actually frees you as a business owner. On top of that, Team Members appreciate understanding what they are expected to do on a day to day basis. A handbook can have the power to run the business without the business owner being involved. Seriously, you need one!
Post by Melanie!