If you want employees to go “by the book, ” you must provide a book for them to go by. Although you won’t get immediate rewards from writing this book, known as a policy and procedures manual, it can save your business if it is used right. Include what you think is necessary. Keep it simple, keep it clear, and put it in place on your first day.
Not only does a policy and procedures manual help your employees understand what to do and what not to do on a daily basis, it also clearly outlines your procedures for handling virtually every imaginable what-if situation. Such a manual helps reduce mistakes and the poor decision-making that many times leads to increased liability and responsibility on your part. A well-documented policy and procedures manual also reduces your business risk in the case of a rogue employee who makes a decision that is not in line with the company procedures.
In my early days in the pizza business, I learned the importance of building a manual with a variety of “what-if” situations. I learned because of an employee named Matt. Matt was a great pizza cook and could handle the job of four people, so on our big rushes he was quite valuable. But as soon as things slowed down, Matt went looking for ways to help me write my manual.
Matt taught me a ton. I learned that putting a pressurized aerosol can of food spray through a 475-degree conveyor oven can cause a huge commotion. I learned that a fire extinguisher isn’t meant to be used to kill bugs out in the parking lot. I learned that banana peels are not the only things that will make management slip and fall. And I learned that terminating employees is not fun, but sometimes it needs to be done.
I also learned to build a “what-if” scenario for a lot of things I didn’t imagine I could imagine. When people like Matt work for you, you get to develop far-fetched scenarios because “what-if” becomes “what-now?” You won’t be able to list every possible scenario, but preparing for the majority of possibilities gets you thinking correctly for other situations as well.
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