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Where is your policy and procedures guide?

I haven’t walk into a business that hasn’t acknowledged the importance of having a documented policy and procedure guide. A large percentage even have one that they bought from a conference once or stumbled over somewhere. The intent is there, but this is where the wheels fall off. Most of these offices have them stacked on a shelf, hidden in a drawer or in more creative offices, they are holding the back fire door open.

A procedure guide offers team alignment and endorses culture into the business. It will offer the business a more consistent service to its clients and a framework that the team can operate within. How can you measure and improve your customer service and team performance, if you have no benchmark to which to measure it against. A procedure guide is the backbone to any high performing business.

The joy of entering the industry at the lowest level, and building a career in property management, is that you understand how a property manager thinks. When it comes to introducing new processes or reinforcing existing ones, property managers tend to push back, unless it solves a problem for them today. You need to give them a tool that makes their job easier, not create more work for them. Given them a 300 page procedure guide that you purchased off the shelf is not a great start. They will never open it.

While an off the shelf procedure guide is a great start, and shows awesome intent to the team, I would encourage that you use it as a guide only, to create your own. Each office that I go into exhibit nuances from the next, even when they are geographically close. An off the shelf procedure guide won’t cut the grade. You and your team will need to build your own.

Building your own procedure guide will take time, don’t force it out. What I encourage you to do, is to build in 30 mins each week in a team meeting to review and build one section of the procedure guide. The team must be part of the process as it is their guide. If you have 26 procedures, this may take 26 weeks to do. Use the first 10 mins of the meeting to brainstorm, as a team, everything about a procedure onto a whiteboard. Once you have done this, use the next 10 mins to organise them into a sensible order to create a guide. Cull off anything that maybe too low level, keep at a relatively high level. Think of it more like a checklist and keep it to about 1-2 pages. Use the final 10 mins to review the guide and ensure the team all agrees on the format.

Once you get to the end of the 26 weeks, start back with the first one you and your team created, and review them. I’d be very surprised if nothing had changed in the procedure in 6 months. It will definitely need tweaking. Keep this cycle going. It ensures two things. The team are engaging with the procedure guide, they are all aligned with it, it is kept up to date and always relevant.

When implementing the guide, the team need to be empowered to endorse the guide and pull up other team members that are venturing off track. In an open and creative culture, nobody will get offended of they receive a nudge from their colleague when they don’t follow the guide on a particular task. This encourages the team to take ownership of the guide.

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