As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Yet the hiring process for new employees is just the beginning of what you, as a small business owner, hope will be long and fruitful relationships with them.
Onboarding new employees is where the fun begins, as this is a time when you can introduce work processes to your employees that will make them incredibly efficient. This is a unique time to answer any questions your new hire or hires may have, and fight the battle of inefficiency before it begins.
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is hiring new employees. This is partly because business owners don’t think they can take the time out of their schedule to train a new employee. But by creating smart processes, the business can be made far more productive — and it will have the potential to grow exponentially.
Process mapping tasks for your new employees
Therefore, it is important to create official written processes for the tasks that the business owner and/or employees do on a daily basis and that the business owner hopes the new hires will be able to take on.
One efficient way to write out the processes you work on each day is by creating an employee handbook. However, just because you hand someone a book doesn’t mean that they will read it. You should also consider reviewing the employee process handbook in a fun and engaging way. One way to do this could be to hold pop quizzes to review your employee process handbook, but give candy or gift certificates as prizes to whomever gets an answer correct. Another thing to remember if you go this route: don’t just ask yes or no questions. Make sure your employees can explain processes so they understand how and why you want things done in specific ways.
Business owners can map processes for the tasks that the new hires will be taking on. Most likely, the new hire will be taking on responsibilities that a current employee or owner is already doing, plus new tasks that no one in the business is doing yet.
How to map processes
While the words “process mapping” may sound confusing, they shouldn’t be! You can quite easily draw or create a process map; the important thing is that you remember every part of the task.
For example, if you own a bakery you might write to your new employee:
1. Unlock the front gate with the code 482021.
2. Place the lock behind the cash register.
3. Turn on the lights.
4. Check to make sure all baking equipment has been properly cleaned…
No task is too small for a process map. Also, you can create directions for specific scenarios, for example:
“If the lights have not been turned on, then turn them on.If the lights are turned on, proceed to step 4.”
Remember, process maps are living documents and can always be edited if better software, or better processes are created. These maps can be adjusted as the new hire gets comfortable with the position and streamlines the process.
Also, listen to your employees, as their insights are crucial. They have may strong ideas on how to improve processes. Just because you see something one way, doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to do it.
Documenting processes for new employees
To grow your business, it is very important to put the mapped out process into a documented guide both online and in print. These guides are typically written but they can also be visual and feature a video or instruction manual with images.
Though there are several ways to document processes for new employees, the standard way to do this would be to create a comprehensive employee handbook. That could be a written process guide that all employees have access to. This guide could have workflows, assigned roles, tools used, and importantly a glossary of terms that are used within your industry. Yes, you can put this book online, and yes, it can include supplemental videos or photographs in its digital version. But for the sake of brevity, start with a handbook that all employees have access to as this is most efficient.
One extra efficient way to manage and update this handbook is to assign its updating as a task for a trusted, long-term employee whom you expect will be around for a long time. You can either have this book updated on a quarterly basis, or perhaps every time a process is changed. For example, if you buy new machinery that requires operators, it would be necessary for both efficiency and safety purposes to immediately have someone who understands this machinery update your handbook.
Creating processes will be helpful not only to your new employees, but also to your existing employees. Process mapping is an important step to freeing up a business owner’s time to deal with more important issues such as how to grow and scale the business in the long term. When business owners can handoff responsibilities to other employees, whether they are new or seasoned, it is a sign that the owner can focus on other higher level tasks. Documenting processes is the best way to do this.
But remember: Get started early, before it’s too late, as tasks get more complex over time as your business grows!