At the start of any business, things move fast and furious. It’s easy – almost inevitable – to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your organization, focusing on your customers and growing your business, and to lose sight of the reason why you do what you do. Early on, that’s a common challenge, and one that is often addressed when the business is more established, stable and has a more cohesive workflow.
One critical piece of any established business, particularly in the senior living realm, with its countless moving parts and state regulations, is the development of policies and procedures for each department within the community. “Having well-thought-out policies and procedures gives every department a road map for success, but also ensures consistency now and in the future,” says SageAge’s Senior Vice President & Senior Consultant Karen Nelson Crolius.
Developing thorough policies and procedures is no simple task, but as mentioned, it’s a necessary one. Karen often helps senior living communities work through this intense but rewarding process as a SageAge consultant, and when done well, it can make a huge difference across an entire organization, starting at its very root. Let’s take a look at the reasons why.
Reasons to Develop a Policy and Procedure Guide
It’s a huge time-saver. Early on, dealing with challenges with regards to proper protocol or employee behavior might be able to be accomplished on a case-by-case basis. But, as your organization grows, and questions and concerns arise more often, having a policy and procedure guide in place can save hours of hassle. Rather than having to answer every question or address every concern individually, many (for example, how does an employee request vacation time? How should kitchen staff re-stock low supplies? etc.) will be addressed in a good manual. This frees up your leadership’s time to manage more strategic challenges.
It empowers your team. Often, manuals are looked at as a way to control or restrict your business’s team. On the contrary, a good manual goes a long way in empowering your team members to behave freely within the confines of the established policy. They don’t have to ask before performing every little task. They can execute their duties within the limits of the defined guidelines.
It creates a level playing field. A smart manual of policies and procedures shows a company’s commitment to making evenhanded, fair decisions regardless of personal opinions. This is helpful in not just a generically good, fair way, but in a legal way as well. Smart policies protect an organization and its team members by outlining the legal obligations each party has to one another.
Now, let’s consider some steps you can take to get started creating a policy and procedure outline for your organization and its members.
Establish key messaging
A good manual of policies and procedures is a strong reflection of your company’s goals, mission, values and traits. It reflects your organization’s philosophy on business and employee relations, and shows your creativity with regards to problem solving. It shows how you view employees and customers and the value you place on them, and in doing so can go a long way in establishing smart guidelines for hiring good people and maintaining strong morale.
None of this would be possible without a thoughtful approach to the very values that drive your business model. One way to discover the values that lie at the core of your business is to ask your key stakeholders what challenges they’ve encountered during their time at the company, what triumphs they are proud of and what traits, phrases or actions exemplify those circumstances. For example, if you consistently hear from your stakeholders that a team approach is critical to solving challenges at your organization, that’s a good indicator that teamwork and collaborative thinking is a strong value within your organization.
However you decide to do it, make the time to create clear messaging around your company’s mission and its core values. Knowing these will go a long way in creating policies and procedures that reflect what you’re all about.
Research best practices
There’s no reason to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel when you don’t have to. Many organizations have gone through the development of their own policies and procedures, and you can take a cue from them in your own process. Do research into those companies that you feel most closely exemplify the values and traits you want your own organization to live by. Take a look at how they have chosen to structure their guidelines, and consider the good ideas they have. Copying isn’t good, but being inspired by the good work of others certainly is.
Engage your key stakeholders
When you’re creating a document that will have a profound impact on the lives of your team members, your customers, your partners, your investors and more, it’s absolutely necessary to involve them in the process. Not only will you obtain useful, potentially critical information that you, in your limited role, may not have access to, you’ll also go a long way in obtaining buy-in from these stakeholders from the very start. By making them feel involved and worthwhile, they are far more likely to greet any manual you might develop with warmth rather than hostility. They’ll feel as though you cared about their opinion, and being heard is a powerful thing.
Create a plan of attack
Going through these types of processes can be a time consuming and laborious process. And, unfortunately, we all know that the customer’s needs almost always come first. It’s easy to let projects like these languish on the backburner for months, so counteract that by giving specific team leaders the time, space and authority to do the work needed without interruption. This is an important process, one that can be potentially transformative for your business. Think about it like your business’s constitution, and give it the time and attention it deserves.
While creating a policy and procedure manual might seem like a challenging and boring process, taking the right approach can ensure it’s anything but. Our team is intimately familiar with the steps and work required to create something that will support your business now and into the future, and we’d love to help you create guidelines that reflect your unique organization. So, get in touch soon to discuss how we can help!
Expert Policy and Procedure Development to Assure Your Smooth Sailing
If you are managing a senior living community and are in need of expertise in developing effective operating policies and procedures, contact us today. We excel in helping communities organize their key operations and bring order and consistency to how they are implemented. Today, this is an essential building block for high performance and growth.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.