The Definition of a Procedures Manual

Policies, guidelines and procedures help your business to run systematically and efficiently. Having a written outline of how things should be done at your workplace ensures that every employee has the knowledge and vision to contribute to the growth of the business. Create a procedure manual to empower your employees to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A procedures manual contains the policies, guidelines and processes for the whole organization. It exists to help employees do their jobs in an approved and consistent manner.

Include Policies and Procedures for Your Business

Your procedure guide includes the policies and procedures for your overall workplace, as well as for each individual role. Policies reflect the ​rules​ you want your employees to follow, while procedures outline the ​process​ for following those rules.

Your business’ procedure manual should include:

  • The vision, mission and core values of your business
  • Employee rights and regulations
  • Health benefits, sick days and vacation days
  • Expenses, deductions and reimbursement
  • Harassment and discrimination guidelines
  • Online communication guidelines
  • Overtime
  • Breaks, mealtimes and rest periods
  • Disciplinary action

Having all of this information in writing ensures that your employees have a point of ​reference​ for anything they need to know regarding the rules of your workplace. This reduces miscommunication between the business and its employees. It also ensures there are processes in place for how to complete each action, and what to do in case disciplinary action is required.

Outline Specific Instructions for Each Role

Each department in your organization should have a procedure manual where the tasks of each role within that department are outlined. For example, there should be an IT department manual, a customer service department manual and a sales department manual.

Within each manual, be sure to list out each kind of role, such as IT manager, customer service representative and sales associate. Next, list ​specific tasks​ that each role is responsible for. Then, create ​step-by-step instructions​ for each task. For example, if one of the customer service representative’s tasks is to close up the cash register each night, how should they do it? How should they count the cash and credit card transactions, where should they list them and what should they do with the cash at the end of the night?

Having this kind of minute details documented ensures that there are no ​knowledge gaps​ for your staff. They have a reference they can check when they forget a process or are completing a new task. If an employee has to suddenly leave the company, you still have a record of all the tasks they are responsible for so that you can ensure ​continuity​ in your business.

Use a Direct Writing Style for Your Procedure Manual

Writing a clear, coherent and useful process manual takes time. Start with drafting an outline of all of the information you need to include. Next, highlight the areas of priority, so you know which sections to start with. Complete the procedure manual section by section, instead of working on multiple sections at a time. This helps to reduce confusion and repetition.

Use a ​direct writing style​ that makes it easy for your employees to follow the logical steps you offer. Include plenty of numbered step-by-step lists for processes that need to happen in a certain order. Use bulleted lists for procedures that can be completed out of order. Where possible, include images or graphics to aid in understanding.

Implement Your Policies and Procedures

Always keep your procedure manual ​up to date​ by reviewing it each month. When necessary, revise the procedures that are out of date. Share the updated latest version of the procedure manual with your employees. Instead of having a printed version, consider having an online version of the manual, which makes it easier to ensure that your employees always have the latest content.

Share the manual with all new employees and stress the importance of reading through each section to become familiar with the rules of your workplace and department. Reference the manual in meetings where questions about topics that are in the procedures come up. For example, if an employee wants to know what the policy is on taking sick days, answer their question and also remind them to review the information in the procedure manual.

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About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.