As a business owner you have to wear a lot of different hats – and all too often – many at the same time. And not only are you responsible for your own hats, but also the hats you delegate to others. Deciding your small business structure should be a key early component of your startup.
For many business owners, the real challenge is trusting another person to do the work as well as you do – to truly let go. Ultimately, what makes this easier is ensuring everyone understands your expectations for their roles. In a word, you need structure.
Creating structure is all a matter of management: management of the work, management of how that work is completed, and management of expectations of both you and your employees.
Creating more structure in your business isn’t as onerous as it sounds. In a short amount of time, you can put the following things into place one-by-one to create an environment of accountability and empowerment for your employees:
1. Job Descriptions
Job descriptions do not end when the hiring process is complete. The job description is the benchmark used to measure the performance of the person you hire.
However, ensuring that employees understand the ongoing significance of their job descriptions can often fall through the cracks.
Explain to an employee their value – to you, to the team and to overall company performance. It’s your employees’ personal ownership of their roles that will determine their success on the job.
2. Employee Manual
Dry? Yes. Helpful? Very. Manuals are one of those things that nobody likes to write or read, but they’re essential to set the baseline for the day-to-day functioning of your business.
You get to decide what the manual covers and in what detail, but it should cover everything from habits in the kitchen, to how you want a uniform worn.
A suggested rule of thumb: if it seems common sense to you, it may not be to others – so put it in the manual! You will also want to be sure you refer to the Employment Standards Act if you’re not sure about some element of how you employ people at your business.
3. SOP: Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures are only mildly more exciting than manuals, but equally as important.
This document goes one step further to ensure that anyone you employ will be able to step into another position or department and make it through the day without facing too many crises.
Standard Operating Procedures provide documentation of the processes you would like carried out on a consistent basis – and who doesn’t like consistency?
4. Disciplinary Policy and Process
A disciplinary policy isn’t about embracing the ability to punish someone. It is about embracing ongoing improvement and consistency for your business.
A disciplinary policy is the bittersweet partner to the Employee Manual, and is often included in the manual itself. A disciplinary policy and process allows you to circumvent the finger-pointing that may go on in the workplace when trouble arises, and will help you resolve the situation in a way that works in everyone’s best interest.
By keeping any infractions documented, you can quickly identify employees who contribute to growth versus those who don’t. Further, you’ll be able to take decisive action when discipline is warranted, while providing employees with an understanding of what is expected of them.
Small Business Structure Conclusions
While none of these structural tools will ‘fix’ any struggles in-and-of themselves, they do lay a firm foundation on which you can manage your business – and they’re always much easier to implement before they’re needed in a difficult situation.