9/25/2006

BE CONSISTENT & MAKE IT CLEAR!

Filed under: — Doug Contreras @ 3:29 am on

George was a brilliant businessman and a consummate salesperson. He had an engaging personality enjoyed by customers and employees alike. Like many entrepreneurs, he involved himself in too many areas of his business and due to the time constraints created by his over-involvement, he tended to leave things unfinished and in disarray. His style of communication was not too much different. So as not to waste time, his statements on company policy were brief, verbal and expressed in bits and pieces. While George had the whole concept in his head, he would vocalize only enough to deal with the issue at hand. His policy position one day would often seem to be completely opposite to the one stated the day before. As the guy who was recruited to bring order and organization to his company, I developed the following approach:

  • Each time an issue would arise that called for a policy proclamation, I made note of it and George’s response.
  • Afterwards, I would discretely poll the affected people as to their interpretation of the policy and arrive at a consensus opinion which resulted in a draft procedure describing the action details and the responsible parties.
  • Next I submitted the draft to George who inevitably shot it full of holes. This forced him to respond in writing to my misunderstandings which formed the basis of my draft revision.
  • Upon submitting the revision to George, he generally cited only one or two minor issues which I addressed in the final version.
  • When George signed off on the final version, I sent copies to the responsible parties. Additionally I established and maintained 5 indexed loose leaf binders, one for George, one for Production, one for Sales, one for Customer Service and one for myself.
  • At our next production meeting, George and I would discuss the new procedure in detail to insure that everyone was on board.
  • On a periodic basis, I would review each procedure with George to insure its continuing validity. Additionally, I made it a point to review them with the responsible parties to clarify any misunderstandings and determine any problems with compliance.

This is only one of many approaches that can be used to establish a formal statement of company policies. Some would argue that a procedural manual is overkill for a small business; however in the above situation it was critical. For a business to grow and thrive, employees and staff need consistent and clear direction!

DOUG CONTRERAS
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doug@performancedatamanagement.com

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