We’ve all worked in chaotic offices -- papers and other materials have piled up in stacks, staff are frustrated and unsure about their responsibilities, and management aren’t happy with what staff are getting done. How can you make the office run smoothly? Having clear procedures for staff to follow will help everything else fall into place -- you'll have a cleaner office, happier and more productive staff, and better managers in no time.
Research the areas of the organization that are unclear by writing a survey and surveying staff. Ask staff what they are unclear about, whether it’s their role and responsibilities, who they report to, or how to do certain procedures properly.
Create an employee handbook based on what employees need clarification on. Also include standard company policies, including information about the office environment. Staff need to know that papers need to be filed in a timely manner, to straighten their desks before leaving work, and to do their part to create a clean workspace.
Create standard operating procedures, or SOPs. SOPs are written instructions that define the who, what, where, why , and how of every task. Create an SOP for each task that you want staff to follow. Include a summary paragraph about the process, step by step instructions on how to do it, and a list of resources if they need more information. Include a date in the future, 6 to 12 months away, when this SOP will be reviewed and updated. Also include the name and contact details for the person in the organization who is responsible for that procedure -- that way, staff know who to contact for more information. Place all SOPs in a notebook and make this accessible to all staff so they look up a procedure if they need to check something. Write new SOPs for new procedures that arise and add them to the book.
Train Staff and Get Organized
Give the employee handbook to all current employees as soon as it is finished and to new employees when they are hired. Employees can improve the way the office is run if they know what is expected of them.
Train employees on all SOPs that apply to them. Have the staff person that is responsible for the procedure train other staff one-on-one or in a group. Train staff on all procedures after they are developed, so staff are clear on what is expected of them when doing that procedure.
Hold an all-staff cleaning day to get the office organized. This should not have to be done often. After reading the employee handbook and being trained on the new SOPs, staff should have a clear idea of what to do.
Take staff on an out-of-office retreat for further training.
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