How Standard Operating Procedures Improve Communication in a Small Business

Two women using computers in a coffee shop

Effective communication is a necessity for small businesses. Not only does it increase morale, engagement and commitment among employees, but it also reduces grievances that may arise from misunderstandings. To make sure that communication is clear and consistent, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are needed. Standard Operating Procedures are a list of step-by-step instructions on how certain tasks should be completed. Employees don’t have to guess what to do in various situations, because management will have already outlined a clear procedure to follow.

Clients expect your services/products to have a consistent quality, and by having SOPs you can ensure that there will be a minimal number of errors and inconsistencies. Your small business will be able to boast of having more structure and a more progressive and harmonious work environment. Standard Operating Procedures in small businesses provide a lot of benefits, but for this post let’s focus on three ways SOPs affect the area of communication.

SOPs help organize the feedback process

Communication is about more than simply sharing your ideas effectively; it’s also about being able to listen and respond to feedback. Let’s say a business owner has recently modified one of the company’s policies. According to the SOP, in order to determine whether this new policy will be helpful or detrimental to the organization, he can disseminate surveys via pen-and-paper or use some free online tools such as Google Forms or he can conduct a meeting among employees and personally ask their opinion on the modified policy.

Having a specific procedure on how to collect feedback reassures the employees that the small business is open to two-way communication. By making it a regular practice to listen to the employees’ feedback, small business owners are building employee loyalty and ensuring that the decisions and policies that management makes are in the best interest of everyone involved. When employees feel that they have a voice and that they are actually an important part of the organization, you will find an increase in their morale.

SOPs make internal communication run smoothly

Now, let’s take client on-boarding as an example. Finding new clients is not always easy, so when you do find one, you want to make sure that the on-boarding process is completed as quickly and smoothly as possible. SOPs in this case may include assigning each team member specific responsibilities with deadlines, the assessment of the client’s business, building a marketing plan and goals, scheduling a meeting with the team/client, and performing a follow-up call.

Imagine if there were no SOPs for this process. One employee may start doing a task that is assigned to someone else, thus making work redundant and causing a delay in the on-boarding the client. Of course you wouldn’t be able to tell the client that there was some internal misunderstanding, as this will surely give a poor impression. Having a clear SOP means that employees involved in the team will know which phase of the procedure the team is currently working on and who is specifically assigned to that phase. This whole process of client on-boarding will be less time consuming as employees will be mindful of each responsibility and the deadlines; therefore, making internal communication in small businesses a success.

SOPs communicate job responsibilities

Memory is not always the best resource to rely on when you need to remember specific processes. Let’s say you’re a newly hired machine technician in a small manufacturing company, and there’s an issue with one of the machines assigned to you. Who do you report the malfunction to? Is there a proper chain of command to follow? Is there paperwork to be completed? This is where SOPs come in. If the small business has clearly written SOPs, every employee should know what is expected of them.

Organizational communication is a crucial component of any successful business. By having formalized and customized organizational communication procedures, any small business owner can rest assured in knowing that everything is operating as it should be. If you want to have a customized communication solution for your small business needs, Tuxedo Impressions LLC can make one that will surely reflect your organization’s standards and policies.

~ Gem Borja, Team Tuxedo Impressions LLC™