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I don't think anyone really likes to read corporate policy
manuals (aka, "Employee Manuals/Handbooks"). They're thick, they're boring,
and usually written in such a way as to satisfy lawyers as opposed to the
average Joe. As I advise young people, policy manuals are, unfortunately, a
necessary evil and shouldn't be glossed over. Instead, they should be
carefully studied as they contain the fundamental "do's and don'ts" of the
Even though MBA is a small company, we found it necessary
to write our own policy manual years ago. Some people might think it's
overkill for a small business to have such a manual, we didn't. Just like any
large company, we found it important to keep everyone operating on the same
wavelength. In our early stages, when we were particularly busy, we inevitably
had employees who wanted to abuse the system when their manager was
preoccupied, such as frequent tardiness, excessive reports of health problems
(particularly on Friday afternoons), and improperly prepared expense accounts.
From this we learned a policy manual is vital to control people who are
inclined to break the rules, not for those who follow them. Consequently, we
developed our own manual and had our corporate attorney review it for clarity.
Following this, we had all employees study it and sign a statement they had
read and understood it.
Since then, I have seen a lot of policy manuals in my
travels through corporate America but very few in small businesses. Quite
often, when I talk to small business owners, they see little value in such a
manual. They fail to realize it will actually save them time if everyone
understands the rules of the business and the owner will have to spend less
time supervising people, and get on with their business. Further, I tell them
they should think of it as an insurance policy to help prevent litigation with
potentially disgruntled employees. Nonetheless, most like to throw the dice
and take their chances. I consider this strange, particularly in these hard
economic times where juries are awarding large awards to employees for such
things as sexual harassment and discrimination issues.
Until such time as this country implements laws for "tort
reform," (which may be never) I'm afraid such things as policy manuals are not
just a luxury, they should be considered a prerequisite for running a
business. Operating without one is foolishly reckless, plain and simple.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their
Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-01-05 10:17:10 in Employee Articles