Every Company Needs A Handbook

A company handbook is an item that may be small, but it creates a big impact in any organization. I have seen quite a number of small businesses skip having a handbook simply because they believe they have few employees. They think that a company manual is not needed because they can directly tell their people what they want, and what they do not want to happen.

The problem is that this is not just a matter of the number of employees, or how hands-on the business owner is. This is also a matter of legality, consistency, and organization. A handbook is a compilation of the most important things every member of the organization needs to know.

Here are some points to get you started in making your company handbook:

1. Vision and mission. Your introduction should be orienting your people what the company is all about. Tell them by sharing your company’s vision and mission. Where does the company want to go in the coming years? What is its mission for the people it caters?

Share your insights about your company. Some even opt to include the company history just to paint a clearer picture of where they want the company to be. A company handbook is an extremely useful tool in acquainting fledgling employees with the organization and their new professional career.

2. Organizational structure. The easiest way to orient your people on who reports to whom and how their career could progress is providing them a copy of your organizational structure. You don’t need to put the names, as they would eventually be replaced when there are changes in the staffing. But at least show them which position will be in charge of them, or in the case of managers, which positions are under them.

You can further add more value to the handbook by including the requirements for promotion—how much hours of specific trainings they must undergo, how many years they should have been staying in the company, and the filing procedures.

3. Product specifications. Especially for companies that offer a wide array of products, you should always include the background of the company: what it sells, where its branches are located if there are any, and which segment it caters to. This saves you the time in acquainting new employees with the company and gives them a clear picture of the company. In understanding what the company does, they can effectively sell to your clients what you are providing. Include here perhaps a picture for every product so they can easily identify these products.

4. Terms of employment. In matters related to employment, everything must be in writing. This includes the requirements for the positions, documents to submit, length of training before regularization, or terms of contract in terms of people hired only for specific projects.

5. Penalties. We are human beings, emotionally affected by a lot of factors in our daily lives — traffic, hunger, your child failed his exam. But these should not affect us in dishing out penalties in the office. Imagine suspending an employee for a week just because he was tardy the day your car had a flat tire, and then writing a simple memo to another person just as frequently tardy as that person yesterday because today you had an amazing breakfast. What does that tell you as a leader? How will people perceive you as a manager?

Put your penalties and the requisites into writing in order to be consistent. Your people have to know what they should, should not do, and the penalties in doing those things that they are told not to do. This also saves you the hassle in coming up with penalties when the need arises.

Consistency is key to being an effective leader. Make a handbook. Put everything related to your operations in writing. This ensures that you will have an equal treatment for all of your people. An employee handbook guarantees uniformity. It allows your people not to worry about getting unjust punishments just because they made a mistake when you were in a bad mood.

The main reason why handbooks are often ignored is that it is often outdated. Just remember to update it. When there are a lot of new policies added within the year, make sure that you make a new compilation by next year. No matter how small a company is, it would benefit from a well-written handbook.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin, C-4, Sunday, May 14, 2017. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.