Improving Communications through Policy, Procedure and Process

By Jordan Horn

Communication in its most simplified form is the sending and receiving of information. We have all heard of the childhood game telephone. Where a group forms a line and the first player whispers a secret message to the person next to them and the message gets passed down the line to the end through word of mouth. By the end the message is generally altered. This is due to human interactions and how senders and receivers hear different messages sometimes at the same time. As a business grows turnover will occur and the ability to communicate a message that lasts to each employee will determine the effectiveness to operate.

Companies utilize a variety of techniques to communicate to employees through use of policies, procedures, and processes. Business policies are the overall broad guideline. Procedures are the detailed instructions to accomplish a specific task. And processes are the activities or set of activities required to complete an individual’s job duties. Not every task will be documented because it is unrealistic yet, utilizing technology will improve your documentation. And it’s important to determine what tasks can allow variation in completion and what cannot. Even the most basic checklist to remind employees of opening and closing procedures can provide consistency to operations.

Variation in service or product will affect your customers. It’s what builds your reputation and develops brand loyalty. If you were to eat lunch at three of the same fast food chain restaurants in different physical locations, you should have similar experiences. They each have different owners, managers, staff, and physical appearances although, they have the same food and greetings exactly. That is a sign that their organization is properly communicating to employees through explicit policies, procedures, and processes.

There are five steps to improve communications with employees when utilizing policies, procedures, and processes are:
1. Have well developed and tested written instructions
2. Provide visuals when possible (a picture is worth a thousand words)
3. Provide personal training and instruction
4. Update continually
5. Establish accountability

Each employee will learn differently, have varied backgrounds, and communicate differently. By testing written instructions through such a manner to have cross training allows someone with zero knowledge with only the instructions to follow to accomplish the task. We forget that when you complete a task so many times the items you take for granted as common sense might not actually be common sense and require further detailed instruction. Only when a novice can complete the task without additional input do you know your instructions are developed enough to guide and establish a baseline standard of operation.

Communication is both verbal and non-verbal. Having the most well-established policies, documented procedures, and procedures outlined is only as efficient as the ability to establish accountability. If you have the opening and closing processes outlined in a checklist although, management does not spot check to verify processes why would you complete the list every shift each day? The simple task of requiring employees to maintain standards is a form of communication that what they do matters and enforces the overall policies, procedures, and processes to accomplish their job and be successful doing so.

Jordan Horn is an accomplished accountant and financial expert with experience in multiple industries. She holds an MBA in Finance from Keller Graduate School of Mangement and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in Accounting from DeVry University.
She enjoys helping others succeed by providing clear and accurate financial information to key stakeholders and by offering innovative solutions to problems. Jordan is adventurous and enjoys outdoor activities, such as motor sports, camping and exploring. Jordan lives with her husband Dustin, and their two boys, near beautiful Astoria, Oregon.
Follow along on her adventures at www.discoverpines.com and on Instagram @discoverpines