Ever been frustrated because you constantly have to repeat the same instructions over and over? Something ever been missed or not done the way you thought it out in our head by an employee? Well, there is a solution to that......written job procedures. Don't click off the page just yet. I know that you have thought about doing this. You probably agree that its a good idea to have. But who has the time (or desire) to spend weeks creating detailed, step-by-step procedures for every position in their company?
I get serious geeky about writing procedures and I dreaded preparing them for my own company, but I did. And here's the reason why. Even though it was a bit time consuming and not something I could mark off my to-do list immediately, having a procedure manual in place would help keep my sanity and save me time in the long run. I mean seriously, you can only explain to someone how to enter a sales lead in the computer so many times before you just lose your mind. I digress. I found that there were major benefits to the investment of my time. I'm pretty confident you will find the same benefits.
This is what taking the time to create a procedure manual can do for you:
After those seven very compelling reasons of what job procedure manuals can do for you, I'm sure that you're very anxious to get started cranking out those manuals. Epic. I'm even more excited to show you how. The remainder of this post will be a tutorial of how to make your own job procedures manuals.
STEP 1: DECIDE HOW YOU WANT TO SHARE THE MANUAL WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES
You have some options available for how to share the job procedures manual with your employees. You can share them:
The content for the job procedures manual will be the same for either method. The delivery methods just gives you options on how to present and use the information once it is created. So after you have decided on which delivery method you want use, the next step is figuring out what exactly you need to create and for what employees.
STEP 2: LIST YOUR JOBS
If you have only one position within your company, this part is very easy. One employee, one job procedure manual. If you have more than one position, we will need to take some time to think this through. I made a worksheet for you to make this part simpler. If you'd like to have them I'd be happy to email them to you right now. (Click the picture above and I'll get them right over to you.)
To get started make a list of all the positions in your company. We want to make sure that no one is left out of getting a job procedures manual. We are by no means going to write all of those manuals right now. So what I want you to do is write the number "1" next to the job position with the most critical need for a job procedures manual. Then place a number 2, 3 and so on until all of your positions have a number indicating the order that you will create job manuals.
STEP 3: WRITE OUT THE TASKS THAT ARE PERFORMED BY THAT POSITION
Now that you have the position that you will create your first job procedures manual for, we need to make sure that we cover everything that the employee needs to know. Our focus now is to make a complete list of the tasks this position performs. After you make the list, it is a good idea to have the employee(s) who perform that position review the list to make sure that nothing is missed. Sometimes employees have responsibilities that we are not aware they perform. If you have a written job description, this can be a good resource to pull from as well.
STEP 4: PICK THE FIRST JOB TASK THAT YOU WANT TO CREATE A PROCEDURE
This is where the work begins. But get your thoughts organized first. The worksheets I have created for you will help you get ready to write your procedure. To start your outlining, write out the systems, resources and tools needed to complete the task. Also write the purpose, an example of when the employee may have to complete the task and the desired outcome if the task is done correctly.
STEP 5: OUTLINE AND WRITE THE PROCEDURE
Then sketch out in detail the steps that should be taken to complete the task. You may have to actually walk through an example while you are writing to make sure that you don't skip any steps. Pretend that you are teaching this to someone that has no idea about your company or what you do. Imagine they ask you "why" or "what's that" after every step. Get to the true basic level. The goal is to keep in mind is that anyone should be able to read, understand and complete the task if they have your procedure to follow.
So if you had to just grab someone off the street to do this task they should be able to get it done with your manual in hand. And you seriously never know when this may come in handy.
Now just repeat this step for every task and sub-task for this position. Then repeat for all positions. And in a little (ok after a serious time investment) you have a very valuable resource for your business. Remember all those benefits we started off with? Yep, they will all be yours.
STEP 6: REVIEW, TEST AND REVISE
After your task procedure is written, go grab the employee who performs this job function. Their role here is to review the procedure for clarity and accuracy. They should give you some feedback on how the procedure can be improved for the user and of course if any steps are missing or unclear.
We will take that feedback and revise away. Then do another review with the employee. If the review comes back with no further corrections we will move on to a real life novice test drive. In this step, recruit an employee from another area or anyone just standing around that has no clue of how to perform this job function will do.
Give them the procedure, and tell them to use the procedure to perform the task. Note any feedback that they provide. If they can do the task successfully, great job that procedure is done. If not, take one more review and give some thought to how the procedure could be improved so that a novice can successfully perform the task. Revise and repeat the testing steps again.
STEP 7: PUBLISH AND DO HAPPY DANCE
High fives and happy dances are in order now that you have a brand new ready to use job procedure manual in hand. Now it is time to publish that baby. In the first step we talked about some options available to share the job procedures manual with your employees. Depending on how you choose to publish there may be some additional steps to make the manual super usable for your employees. Take some time to think about how you can maximize user experience before you publish. Once you publish, you're done! Good job.
BONUS: SOME FINAL TIPS FOR THE TRULY EPIC
Here are some final tips to get the most use and benefit from the job procedures manual:
And there you have it folks, seven steps + 1 to creating highly effective job procedures manuals. Just in case you want even more, I have a handy e-book on this topic. This resource has plenty of instructions, worksheets and checklists to guide you through the process in great detail.
So are you are in? If so I want to here about it. Leave me a comment below, and post any questions you have too.
Hey, don't forget the worksheets!
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