In virtually every company, a go-to person exists, someone who can answer even the most obscure questions about the business, procedures, products or services. While things can often continue running smoothly during the go-to person’s brief absence or vacation, what happens if they take an extended leave or quit? Now is the time to consider the risk of not having policies and procedures in place and plan to fix it.
Danger 1: Disengaged Employees
Even if your go-to person is completely loyal to the company and isn’t at risk of leaving, having no policies and procedures can cause problems with the rest of your staff. Employees tend to grow complacent and disinterested when they’re not empowered to learn new things and take on additional responsibilities. Whether you intend it or not, leaving procedures undocumented sends the message that you don’t trust your employees with this responsibility so there’s no need to document it.
Conversely, documented procedures are easy for employees to review during their downtime, helping them prepare for enhanced duties within the company.
Danger 2: Knowledge Gaps
Imagine that only one person in your business is responsible for closing out the credit card purchases for your company and submitting them for payment. In their absence, your company loses the ability to quickly fill its coffers. If the knowledge gap occurs in an area that deals with customers, the impact can be even greater, causing people to lose faith in your business’s ability to consistently meet their needs.
A lack of documentation procedures risks an undue burden on the employee who does know how to carry out the task, adding a task to their inbox they can never possibly delegate.
Danger 3: Salary Negotiations
The risk of not documenting business processes, procedures or history for key areas of your company can be enormous when you consider the potential threat to everything you have strived to build. Some employees will realize the value of the information they have stored in their head and use it to demand higher salaries, additional perks or special treatment. Giving into their demands can hurt the company financially and deteriorate morale, while not giving into demands can lead to severe issues when they leave the company – taking all that knowledge with them.
Of course, not every employee is out to squeeze all the spare pennies from your business. This danger of not documenting procedures is really an extreme case and secondary to the employee engagement and knowledge gap issues. By keeping documentation for procedures and other key components of the business, you can ensure that your team can function when someone’s out of the office, without overworking any one person.