HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsProcedure manuals — A must have

Procedure manuals — A must have

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ONE of the worst scenarios of office problems involves a very important job that cannot be completed by the support staff because of lack of information on procedures.

Report by Paul Nyausaru

Nearly every organisation prepares job descriptions, but most neglect efficient, exact and up-to-date procedures manuals. A job description entails the specific duties that an employee undertakes while a procedures’ manual gives a detailed and informative guide as to how the job is done and enables someone to do the job in an emergency. In an office, people should be able to pitch in and get the job done. This can be made possible only if they are provided with the proper instructions and materials.

Every job entails a certain sequence of paperwork, routine tasks and contacts. For example, someone might be in charge of the recruitment aspect of the organisation. A job description may outline the aspects involved in the identification and hiring of a person required for a particular post. On the other hand, a procedures manual would give the actual steps that one has to take from the start of the process until the person sits on his/her desk. If the person in charge of the recruitment portfolio is out of office, someone else can open the procedures manual and follow the directions to do the job.

The key factor in a procedures manual is detail, and the best format is a step-by-step one which includes requirement for the job, requesting department, forms to be used, policy requirements and, if approvals are involved, a chain of command chart. If there are forms involved in completing a job, copies of these forms and how they are filled out should be included in the manual and labelled. The person preparing the manual should presume that someone with little or no knowledge of the task to be accomplished is going to use it. In other words, it “walks” the person through the particular job to be done.

Managers should see that every support staff employee in his or her department prepares a procedures manual for each job. At the beginning, the manager should meet with each employee individually and discuss the preparation of the manual so that its function is fully understood. An outline of what is expected should be prepared and given to each employee to follow.

One important part of the manual is making sure that it is up to date. Outdated information will only confuse someone and will not get the job done. Employees should be instructed to check the procedures manual they have prepared at least once a month to see if there are areas that need updating. Both the employee and manager should have copies that are accessible to others.

A procedure manual can help avoid confusion when someone has to step in and do a task that is not normally part of his or her job. This enables the office to run much more smoothly and gives managers a “feel” for what is going on in their departments. It also enables the manager to feel more confident about being in charge because he or she knows precisely what is going on in the department.

lPaul Nyausaru is Training & Development Practitioner. You can contact him on email pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk, pnyausaru@gmail.com . Views contained in this article are personal.

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