Are your Policy and Procedure Manuals Getting Dusty?

July 27, 2011

You and your staff invested much time and effort into producing a fantastic set of Policy and Procedure Manuals for your business.  If all is running to plan, you have incorporated these documents as living documents; they are constantly referenced, updated and have improved the day to day efficiencies of your business.

In a less than ideal world your poor manuals are sitting on a bookshelf, gathering dust.


Use your induction procedure to train new staff.  Give them procedures relevant to their new role to browse through as part of their “confirmation of employment” package.  Set aside time during their first week to read through these procedures and answer any questions.

Ensure that your procedures don’t mention employees by name or time frames by a specific date.  If they do, these procedures will date quickly.  Update and replace employee names with job title and dates with time frames (i.e. instead of “by no later than 31 March 2009” refer your procedure to “by no later than the end of the current financial year”).

Hold a meeting once every year to see if any changes need to be made to the policy and procedures manual. This includes new ways of doing work, rewording difficult or confusing paragraphs and brainstorming ways to make the manual more useful, such as by adding more information or color coding different chapters.

Whenever a procedure changes (you get a new vendor for supplies, for instance), make note of the change in your manual and distribute the new page.

Involve your staff.  Set out an audit matrix identifying staff (and they do not need to be senior management) to audit various procedures on a regular basis.  Entire manuals do not need to be audited (unless you are part of the ISO Quality Certification) however by selecting a procedure, or section, to be audited you can ensure that; 

  1. procedures remain current
  2. a range of staff are exposed to procedures.  

Allocate staff to audit procedures outside of their department.  This has two main benefits:

  1. audit is more efficient if the auditor is not aware of the processes involved
  2. creates staff awareness of how other departments/roles operate  

Read about “How to Document your Office Procedures Manual, Easily” and more administration tips on my services page

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