It may sound boring, but after setting up your business and hiring your team, establishing best practices and standard operating procedures (SOP) is one of the most important things you can do. This reduces confusion, increases efficiency and provides employees clarity on how the business operates internally. But that doesn’t mean establishing these all-important rules and regulations is going to be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done.
If this endeavour sounds like a slog to you, you’re in luck: we’ve put together a guide on what to think about when creating your company’s best practices.
Have clear processes
Though standard operating processes and procedures may sound extremely rigorous, these workflows are imperative for productivity – and sanity. And they don’t have to be overly complicated or full of bureaucracy. Decide on workflows that make the most sense for your company and corporate identity. This could take the form of a multi-layered approval system for maximum quality-control or simply manager approval for everything that’s sent to clients or posted on the company’s social media pages. But don’t think you have to decide on all of this by yourself – if you want recommendations on how the team should operate on a day-to-day basis, ask for it.
Stress the importance of documentation
When issues bubble up, one of the best ways to combat them or learn from them is through proper documentation. Even if you want your workplace to be laidback, make sure your team is logging their hours (if necessary), communicating with clients or vendors via company email and using a company-approved chat system with time stamps. These records will act as evidence when problems crop up and – just like in a crime drama – will allow you to solve the case.
No one likes to be micromanaged, and micromanaging is never a good use of your time. So instead of driving yourself, and everyone else, crazy with constant check-ins and reminders, set up a team calendar so that everyone is aware of deadlines and availability.
Schedule regular team meetings
It’s easy to get bogged down by your own to-do list on the daily but taking a breather to sit down with your whole team can be refreshing and fruitful. So, schedule a standing weekly or biweekly meeting with everyone to go over accomplishments, challenges and anything else that needs to be addressed. And remember that this doesn’t have to be a formal situation – it could happen in the morning over coffee, during lunch where you all order in or an hour before everyone goes home. Whatever works best for you and your team.
Know that it’s okay to for things to change
Once you’ve set your standard operating procedure, stick with it for some time before changing it up. But do know that it is okay to change it up – if it’s clear that something is causing a bottleneck or just isn’t working, it should be addressed and changed to work more efficiently. You shouldn’t feel like a failure if your original workflows need some work – agility is all part of small business culture, after all.
Remember that your SOP doesn’t have to be rigid or stodgy. All you need to do is create a few regulations that help the business run smoothly – it doesn’t have to be a 100-page manual or even printed out. Just open a doc and start typing; and don’t forget to share it with the entire team.