How to Write Excellent Procedures that your Team will Love
We have already talked about procedures and explained what they are and why you need them. We have come to a conclusion that procedures are not something that big companies are using to bother their employees and make their work time miserable, as one might assume.
Procedures are an instrument that helps people get the job done in companies of all sizes. Procedures can even help you and make work in your firm a lot easier.
So, let’s say that we make it convincing you that you need procedures, and now you wish to give them a try. Before start using them, there is just one thing for you to do - to write them down.
If you are wondering how to do that, you are at the right place! We will help you to write excellent procedures that your team will love.
A few pieces of advice
There are a few things that you should have in your mind before you write down your procedures:
- Make it clear and straight to the point. Well-written procedures are robust, precise and straight to the point. A person who reads it needs to know for certain what she should do when she sees the instruction. Imagine this situation: you need to assemble a kite, but directions you are following are unclear and vague. At the end instead of a kite, you are getting a flag on a long stick with a tail on top. Now picture similar situation and you will see what weakly explained procedures can do to your company. So, make sure that you are clear.
- Give people some space for improvisation. Even if you are clear when you say what needs to be done, you still want to make some room for sound judgement, subjectivity and personal choices of your employees. You can’t predict each scenario, so trust your team and enable them to be creative. If we take the kite analogy again, we can say: give straightforward instructions on how to make a kite, but let everyone paint their kite as they want.
- “Institutionalise” only operations that are crucial to your organisation. The last thing you want is to be annoying and create procedures for every single thing that you do during the day. Think about that carefully and pay attention to important, repeatable jobs, or the ones where mistakes are not allowed. Look up for such places and you will know where you need to have procedures.
- Use SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) when you have to. SOP are specific procedures that you must follow to make sure that you are working within required legal frame. The best examples of SOP are food safety standards or military routines. If you job requires such directions make sure that you had them in writing and posted on the office wall.
Now that you heard a few important points you should now before we get to the point, it is time to start writing some quality processes.
1. Collect relevant information about the process that you wish to describe. You need to know what exactly needs to be done and when to be able to create the optimal working description. If you are not the one who knows that, ask the person who does, or (even better) let her put it in writing. The important thing is to have all the details.
2. Write it down. Just sit down and do it. Use short sentences and lists whenever possible. Use active voice. And address to a real person. Once you finish the first draft, rewrite it again, and again. When you are happy with how it sounds, ask one of your team members to read it and let you know if she gets it. If steps are not clear, find a way to explain it better.
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3. Design your procedures. We all like pictures, and we know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so use them. Feel free to add some images, graphs, charts, matrix tables, illustrations and anything else that you think that you can use. Everything that helps you explain the process is welcome.
4. Make your procedures available to the team. An Internal company blog is a great place to share your procedures - everyone has access and can easily find the procedure they need. With BlogIn, you can create a particular category called “Procedures” and place all the articles here. You can even enable comments to hear if your team has any questions about it or need some additional information.
As you can see, it is not that complicated to write procedures. All you need is relevant information, some writing practice, and feedback from your team.
Start using procedures!
Start using procedures as soon as you can. It will help you and your team to get the job done. Yes, they might oppose to a new way of work at the beginning, but try to explain to them how much it will help to work more efficiently and with fewer mistakes. As soon as your team realize that they would not have to ask you what to do each time a customer asks a refund they will start accepting procedures.
So, enough talking, let’s write!
We hope that we have managed to help you embrace procedures and start using them. If you already use them, feel free to let us know how. What is your experience with procedures? Do you have them in writing? Do you have some advice on writing procedures to share?