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3 Things You Need to Put to Paper

In late August, Dickerson Management and Career Consulting hosted another successful HR Boot Camp, with HR professionals, small business owners, and managers in attendance. While the questions and discussions ran the gamut, one clear theme emerged: the need to write things down or, in management speak, the need to formalize.

Many small businesses operate successfully without using formal policies or procedures. One of the benefits of having a small workforce is the ability to interact easily and personally with each worker. However, some small businesses grow to the point that some level of formalization would be beneficial. If you’re in this position, you may be wondering where to start.

At a minimum, I recommend that small businesses consider having at least three things in writing—job descriptions, a sexual harassment policy, and performance appraisals.

Job Descriptions

If you’ve read a few of my blog posts, you know I frequently point to the importance of having accurate and updated job descriptions. These are the foundation of everything else you do with personnel, including recruiting, hiring, training, evaluating performance, and compensating employees.

As today’s jobs are changing rapidly, mainly due to technology, keeping these descriptions up to date is more important than ever. It’s easy for the scope of a person’s job to increase over time, and as a manager, you need to have this information to successfully manage your workers. After all, if you’re not sure exactly what employees do, you’ll have a hard time holding them accountable.

Sexual Harassment Prevention and Investigation Policy

Your company may not be big enough to need formal sick leave or grievance policies, but no company should be without a policy on sexual harassment. A good policy will define harassment, detail steps an employee should take if he or she is harassed (including where to go if the harasser is the direct supervisor), and the investigation procedure that will be used for claims of sexual harassment.

There is an abundance of generic policies available on the web that you can use as a foundation. Ideally, you’ll also bolster this policy with some training.

Performance Appraisals

Maybe it feels strange to have a formal performance appraisal for a handful of employees, but keeping detailed records when it comes to performance can help greatly with making better decisions, retaining talented employees, and avoiding lawsuits. Even something as basic as an annual check-in—during which the business owner writes a few sentences about each person’s performance over the past year, highlights achievements, and sets goals for the coming year—can go a long way towards creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Performance appraisals also protect you. In a worst-case scenario in which an employee claims to have been discharged for a discriminatory reason, a paper trail that indicates a record of poor performance can provide legal security for your business.

Does your company have these policies in place? Don’t know where to start developing the ones you’re missing? Give me a call! We’re holding another HR Boot Camp in Shreveport later in 2018! I can also provide individual consulting for your business.

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