Have you taken time to update your procedures to reflect today’s work? You know what I am talking about. All of the changes that have happened in our businesses now that we work remotely. Have you adjusted your standard operating procedures (SOPs) to reflect the way in which you expect those functions to be done at this point?
Before I jump right into this, maybe we should talk about SOPs in general. Hopefully you have them. They are critical for the success of your company. You should be writing SOPs for any procedure that should be done consistently from one person to the next within your business. SOPs exist in all companies. They are written in such a way that anyone can walk in, read the document, and perform the task. They allow for improved training as well as consistency in execution. Ultimately, we want every customer to receive the same level of service no matter who they work with within your organization, right? SOPs accomplish that.
So, if you haven’t created SOPs for your business, please create them! Sit down and put time on your calendar each month to review which SOPs need to be created and which should be updated. (As you get bigger, someone else should own this process, you just simply need to confirm it’s being done.).
If you have SOPs, good job! Now you need to adjust them to reflect the changes you have made since we have created these new ways of working. If you are mostly an online business, you may not have had too many changes. But maybe you integrated a new process for some project management software, like Basecamp for example. If you added a new tool to use, if you changed communication methods, reporting tools, etc. you need to update or create SOPs around those changes.
If you are a brick and mortar business, you have a lot more changes to make no doubt. Creating new procedures around cleaning standards, employee safety, limiting the number of people into your facility, maybe even not allowing people in at all, changing the way your employees interact face to face with your customers or clients, etc.
For example, I took our new kitten to the vet last night. Gone are the days (at least for now) of going inside to check in, wait for a room, etc. Upon arrival we called and checked in. The tech came to the car to complete the paperwork. She then took our kitten inside to see the vet. They did the full exam and the vet came out to my car to talk to me. She gave me the full rundown, gave me the results, etc. Then the front desk called my phone and I paid over the phone. Once that was done, they brought the receipt and the kitten back to me. I never left the car.
Can you already see the number of procedures they have had to document and change just through that basic office visit process? Not to mention that every employee had on a mask so they will have to document those safety procedures, right? It’s a lot.
But it’s the right thing to do, right? No matter your business venue, updating your SOPs helps every employee understand how to successfully and safely perform their job.
As an aside, should you ever want to have a disciplinary discussion or take disciplinary action relative to an employee’s performance, having SOPs is a fair way to ensure expectations have been set and shared (which is your job) and therefore employees know exactly what to do to be successful (their job).