Hmmm.  Which is worse… hitting your thumb with a fast-swinging hammer or writing your Operating Manuals?

For me,  I’ll take the swollen, broken thumb over writing procedures.  Ugh!  I’ve done it, and it is complicated, slow-going work.  However, I also know the power, the sanity and flat-out freedom that Operating Manuals can provide.  So let’s explore the what, why and how of Operating Manuals

On your Organizational Chart, you and your team lay out the Positions at your company.  For each Position, you can assemble a bulleted list of responsibilities.  Here’s what you are supposed to do to do your job.  For each responsibility, you can create one or more procedures…how to do it.  The Operating Manuals are the assembly of procedures, arranged by Position, for how to do what your company does.

Even better, the Operating Manuals help your team members win.  The procedures provide the training curriculum, the accountability standards and the freedom from dozens of daily, micromanaging phone calls.  How nice to write down what is good enough at your company, and help people achieve it.  That’s sane, right?  As opposed to people wondering, and taking a swing.  Or you being forever disappointed by what they deliver.  Everyone ends up frustrated and at odds with each other.  That’s really crazy.  Right?

So, that’s why you want (need) to get your Operating Manuals written.  It’s a project.  A big one.  Put it on your Top Projects List.  Commit to it.  Engage team members to help.  Schedule your first meeting and get going.

Here’s how to write the Manuals:  One person does a task, like how to answer the phone.  Another one writes it down, and then, the rest of the team discusses (argues?) about how it can be done better.  You hash it out and finally decide on the company-way.  You document it, train on it and hold team members to it.  You may have to let someone go to prove that you are serious about it.  You can get the Manuals IN.

And, you might get some help.  If you’ve had Operating Manuals on your Top Projects List for three years now…I suggest you get some help.

My mentor, ZOOM DRAIN partner, and BFF Al Levi is the best operations guy I know.  At age 48, he started writing Operating Manuals, and systemizing his family plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical (PHCE) business.  His initial motivation was to retire.  However, the experience deeply affected him.  Once the Manuals were written and implemented, life got so much easier.  There was breathing room.  He and his family started to systematically attract great team members and help them get really good.  So, instead of retiring, he started teaching other contractors how to run their contracting businesses with less stress and mor