By Gina Blitstein

As a business owner, you possess many skills, wear many hats and shoulder many responsibilities. With so much for you to do, hiring others to help pick up the slack is a smart move. Delegating day-to-day operations and responsibilities allows you to do more of what you need to do to grow your business. Delegating, however, is a lot more than handing over tasks to others. It’s seeing to it that those performing tasks on your behalf are on the same page as you – and as each other – as far as expectations and procedures.

When employees are not well-versed in your expected business practices, they may take it upon themselves to handle things – or not handle them at all. In the absence of accurate and complete guidance from you, they may very well make different decisions and take different actions than you would prefer they did. Despite your best intentions, your untrained staff could cause your organization to readily spiral out of control.

The importance of operational policies

That’s why it’s crucial to establish operational policies for your business – those standards, priorities, procedures and actions that represent the guiding principles upon which you want your organization to run. Operational policies are vital to building an organization that operates smoothly and constantly puts your business’ best foot forward by fostering:

  1. Consistency - When everyone on staff follows the same rules, policies and procedures, their employee experience will be the same – and so will your customers’ experiences with them.
  2. Satisfaction - When your employees have a shared sense of what to do and how to do it, you’ll have a more cohesive staff who can more effectively take pride in serving and satisfying customers.
  3. Mutual understanding – Clearer communication among employees leads to less confusion and a smoother work experience. This will be evident to customers as they interact with employees.

What are operational policies?

Your operational policies should reflect your businesses’ priorities, such as customer service, attention to detail, reliability, trustworthiness, environmental responsibility, and employee recognition. They should reflect your desire to create a tight, motivated team of coworkers, dedicated to serving customers. These policies should be fully fleshed-out and provide specific guidance for employees on how to deal with situations and customers in a manner that is in keeping with the practices you want demonstrated by your business and its agents.

Operational policies could include:

  1. The way in which customers are greeted
  2. The way customers are shown respect and care
  3. The way information is provided to customers
  4. The manner in which customer complaints are handled
  5. The business’ policy for returning merchandise
  6. What employees are expected to do when not otherwise engaged in business-related tasks (cleaning, prepping, recordkeeping…)
  7. The manner in which employees are expected to conduct themselves on the job
  8. Employee professional appearance/dress
  9. The manner in which employee disagreements are handled

Implementation of operational policies

Once you’ve devised your business’ operational policies, commit them to writing. Document them all in an employee handbook so every member of your staff can have access to them at any time. Be certain to specifically teach your operational policies to new employees as part of their training and onboarding experience. Periodically provide refresher training to all employees to remind them of company policies, reiterate their importance and inform them of any new procedures.

Enforcement of operational policies

Consistency cannot be stressed enough where enforcement of operational policies is concerned. There are few more effective ways to create an unhappy, confused and resentful workforce than to inconsistently enforce your operational policies. Expectations and consequences must be equally enforced for the sake of your employees and that of your customers, who will bear the brunt of conflicted employees.

Devising, documenting and enforcing operational policies: totally worth it

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your trusted employees will make the same decisions you, as the owner, would. Dedicated as they may be, their interest and investment in your business begins and ends with their paycheck. It’s in your best interest to make it easy for your employees to do right by you. Providing them the documented information they need to perform at their best on your behalf will allow you all to enjoy greater job satisfaction and success.

Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

 


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank.