“I like to treat all my employees as adults. They shouldn’t need policies and procedures manuals to do the right thing.”

One of the most common comments I hear from small business owners without a policies and procedures manual is that all their employees are adults and should know what to do.

Let’s take a mind adventure for a moment to see how that may play out.

For a moment I want you to consider cooking. I want you to imagine for a moment that overnight every recipe and every cookbook in the world was banned and disappeared. You couldn’t find any recipes on the internet. No publishers, libraries or bookshops stocked recipe books. Every magazine that used to show recipes and every piece of packaging that had a recipe on it suddenly was blank. There were no recipes written down anywhere in the world.

If you wanted to cook a recipe, you had to get someone to tell you what to do and in what order, or you had to cook the recipe solely from memory.

What would happen?

People who tried to do it themselves and who hadn’t done the recipes many times before, would miss ingredients and do steps in the wrong order resulting in fallen cakes and spectacular fails.

People who knew the steps or the process to particular recipes would be inundated by people asking, “what do I do now?”  Their entire day would be filled with answering questions about steps and processes – with little time to do any of their own work.

The perceived value of the keepers of the recipe steps would dramatically increase. They would start to share scribbled notes on what to do and how to do it, but as writing down recipes were banned, these notes would be cryptic and only meaningful to the people in the know.

Different recipe keepers would share their particular way of doing things, which would result in slightly different ways of doing things and different outcomes by the people following their steps. This would lead to confusion and bickering between teams on what is the right way to make a particular recipe.

Your human resources policy and procedures manual is the cookbook for your business.

It tells your team, “How we do things around here” and provides clarity and certainty for your team.

It is the one source of truth and sets out the steps and processes that all of your team can follow, so they know what to do when to do it and how to do it.

It stops confusion, back-biting and the never-ending interruptions to the manager asking how should they do a particular task.

A human resource policies and procedures manual saves time builds productivity and delivers consistency of results.

Of course, a good human resource policy and procedures manual also helps you to demonstrate your legal compliance with the employment laws and rules that govern you from the moment you hire your first employee.

So, treat your team as adults and respect their time, skills and desire to deliver positive outcomes for your business. Create and follow HR policies for your small business and reap the rewards.

Instant HR Policies & Procedures Manual

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Ingrid: Lead Author, Australian Employee Manual

HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.