“Can you answer a question”? It might have started like that, but then escalated into a full scale confusion or a feeling that the questions are never really answered.
Does that sound or look familiar? And, by now, are you wondering what I am talking about? Or, are you right there, knowing exactly what this article is about.
So, what about questions? Have you ever been in a business and asked a question to one employee and received one answer. And then on another day, or even in another hour, asked the very same question of another employee, but received a totally different answer, with a totally different result? Still puzzled? I’ll make it clearer by giving a more specific example. Let’s say that you work or you volunteer in a coffee shop. You are a new employee. Something happens and you need an answer to a question. Let’s say, you need to know where the bags of coffee are stored so that you can go and get another bag of coffee to fill the machine. So, you ask employee one, “Where are the coffee bags?” And employee one tells you, “The coffee bags are located in the back storage area in the orange cabinet”. So, you go back to the orange cabinet. You take the time, and when you get back there, you see that there is no coffee in the cabinet but you see nothing but towels, and other supplies, in that same orange cabinet. So, now you’ve wasted that time, and you still have no coffee. You go and you ask another employee, or perhaps you ask even the manager, “where are the bags of coffee”? And employee number two tells you, “The coffee bags are in the second room, on top of the green shelf”. Once again, you take the time and you go back there to the green shelf, and to your great surprise, there is no coffee there, either. And so, on, and so on. How long did it take you to find the coffee? Meanwhile, there’s no coffee out there, in the machine where the coffee is supposed to be. And let’s suppose that they keep on switching locations and moving the coffee, and this same scenario happens every single week or month.
Who is at fault here? And who is blamed for the lack of coffee, the lack of good service and who is blamed for the resulting, possible, loss of customers? Is anyone to blame or is everyone to blame? Yes, we all understand that blaming someone gets everyone nowhere, and quite quickly for that matter. Yet, in order to solve the problem, we really need to get to the bottom of this dilemna. We really need to find out, where the coffee is, where the coffee belongs, and when the location is changed and who has permission to change the location of the coffee. And other questions that need to be answered, also, are questions like, “What’s the reason for all these changes when something steady or stable would probably result in better efficiency and probably would result in happier employees and even possibly in more customers?”
Okay, enough with the coffee. These coffee problems are very easy to solve. But what happens with other busineses that might be more complicated? What happens when things change rapidly and no employees have the right answers? What happens when businesses are more complex and complicated and even when businesses have more than customers, at one level, who are affected by all the changes and the lack of accurate information?
Take another example. Try this one on for size. Suppose you have a radio station or a newspaper. And suppose in that radio station or in the newspaper, there are certain rules and regulations that need to be followed in order for those companies to be run efficiently. Now picture both of these companies, the radio station and the newspaper company, in the same city, covering the same areas.
In the radio station there might be seven employees, and in the newspaper company, there might be a hundred employees. (Remember, these are only examples, not real scenarios. I’m giving examples in order to illustrate a problem that might exist all over our city, in different companies and in different corporations). Any resemblance to real companies or to real people is merely coincidental. These examples given are fictional, but are given to give “the picture” of what I’m talking about.
Back to the story, so, at these companies, imagine the very same scenario as with the restaurant, all the employees give different answers to the same questions, even in the same days or same weeks. Procedures and rules are constantly changing and changing so much that none of the employees or just some of the employees don’t really know the answers to any questions. Everyone is giving mis-information or wrong answers. The mis-information and wrong answers are constantly causing the business money. This results in loss of customers, unhappy employees, unhappy volunteers, and even, eventually, quite possibly, the loss of the business, and possibly even resulting in some lawsuits.
You’ve probably known businesses like this, right? So, what’s the solution? What are the answers? How can a business run smoothly, and how can a company train employees to run the business smoothly? How does the company save money and cut losses across the board?
Ready? The answer is in one book! That’s right. Every answer is in one book. How is that possible? Can you guess the name of the book?
Here’s what I think, and here is what I believe, and I’d like your input to hear what you have to say on this very important topic. Your words can help put good, positive change into our society. And your input can help a business thrive or even become quite successful.
The book that is needed in every single company, no matter how large or no matter how small, is a “Manual”. Have you ever seen an “Employee Manual”? Usually, good companies have these updated and current manuals so that all employees, and all volunteers and even all the bosses can be “on the same page”. These manuals stop all the mis-information, and stop all the confusion. And these manuals will, eventually, save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for any company that uses the manuals. The manuals can detail everything that employees, and bosses and volunteers need to know in order to run the business smoothly. Most times the manuals will also include hours, times and days of the business. The manuals will indicate the whole “process” of almost all aspects of the business. And, goes without saying that most times, a good manual can also eliminate favoritism, fraud, confusion, loss of employees, loss of funds, loss of company equipment. That’s most times, for most companies.
And usually, when a company has an employee manual, and uses it, and keeps it fully updated, that’s the sign of a good company that really cares for the employees, for the customers and for anyone who does business with the company. If you want to find a caring company, you’ll look to the employee manual or lack of employee manual.
And, don’t let severely outdated company manuals fool you, because these have their own purposes also. Explain that? How about this scenario? You have a company and the manual is so severely outdated, that now, when you ask any question of any employee, you are back to the old habits of getting different answers from every single employee because nobody knows what the current rules and regulations of the company is. What if your company manual is twenty years old? “Wow”, you say? Yes, what if your own company manual is over twenty years old or ten years old? What happens in this case is that most or all of the rules and the regulations have changed. Processes and dates and times and supplies might have been changed severely and or elminated and the manual doesn’t show the changes. Now, new employees and new volunteers coming into the system don’t know what the “real” rules are.
Once the ‘real rules’ are gone, that leave it up to any employees, any bosses and sometimes even any volunteers to make up their own rules, or to guess at the rules or to ignore the rules or to show favoritism. And you ask, “how does favoritism fit in here? Here’s how. if there are no rules or no current rules and no current regulations, then when employees or volunteers ask for things, when they put requests in, or when they want to know solid information about the company or about the company procedures, any employee can give any answer — depending on who is asking the question. And that will definitely produce favoritism, since no answer will be uniform, and no answer will be the same. The answers will change when Jim asks a question, and then when Joan or Marvin asks the same question, depending on which employee or which boss he or she asks, the answers will be totally different. (Note: the names in this article are only examples and are not real individuals; Remember, the disclaimer you read states that these articles are for entertainment only).
So, if you are ready to save money for your company, and if you are ready to save your customers, and save time, and save equipment and even have less turnover in your business, you should be ready to print out a current employee manual and make sure that every employee, and every volunteer and every one involved in the workings of your company has that current employee manual.
Are you ready?
Or do you like not knowing, and chaos to rule your company rather than efficiency, along with happy employees and happy volunteers?
It’s your choice. Sincerely, I hope, that if you own a business, you choose the happy, productive, efficient route of always having a current, updated, fully-understandable employee manual available to everyone involved in your business.
Kudos to you, when you make the right choices! Your business shows it. Look deeply into the workings of it, and you will see the result of “good business”!
Questions and comments welcomed!
LPerry is an experienced, published author and artist, who writes from the heart. Along with heartfelt stories, words and ideas, the articles are packed with emotion, facts and opinions. All of Perry’s articles are for entertainment only and not intended to substitute for any professional advice, so readers are urged to do their own research and make their own judgments regarding any information in the articles. LPerry is making a comeback after a season of personal injury, trauma and tragedy. Yet, even after all that, her words bring information, tears and smiles in a world that is, sometimes, spinning too fast for people to stop, pause, breathe and take a moment to really take everything in.
The author welcomes your comments, questions and your helpful criticism, anytime, night or day. Yes, you’ll learn something, and yet, LPerry invites you to participate by commenting on the articles and on the information.
The main purpose of the articles is to share experiences, information or sometimes to just share some moments of peace, some smiles and some rays of hope. Always have hope, always, and in that you will be courageous, happy and successful