A good administrative policy and procedures manual is an administrative assistant's playbook that paves the way to success on the job. It acts as a guide detailing internal expectations through a checklist and handbook so the assistant can successfully streamline her work to best support her superior and uphold the company's vision and goals. The more detailed the policies and procedures are, the less room for mistakes and miscommunication.
A first-rate administrative policy and procedures manual will cover an overview of the position and the basic operating functions for administrative assistants including your company's policy for recordkeeping, filing and standard forms used as well as procedures, spreadsheet tools and internal controls covering ethics, code of conduct, e-mail, fraud, division of duties, projects, office tasks and best practices.
An administrative policy and procedure manual compiled in a three-ring loose-leaf notebook makes changes to the manual easy, as the role of the assistant evolves.
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) suggests covering the following points when writing a successful manual. A Contents section should create categories and arrange the material by subject. An About section will summarise the organisation, the position and current projects in progress. Include an organisation chart, seating chart and hotline numbers as quick reference to emergency numbers, who to call for assistance, repair and security.
A Task List and Timeline for Performance allows new tasks to be added as they are introduced, reviewed and amended to the old ones periodically to keep information up-to-date and most current. Cross-reference rather than repeating cyclic activities. A Call List will provide a list of callers that commonly call and the priority of their call. This list should also include information on which callers are diverted to other people or departments when the boss is unavailable. It is also helpful to include a list of commonly called outgoing numbers. A section on Office Machinery will include the how to explanations for computer use, net-etiquette, log-on instructions/backup procedures and necessary software access codes. If there is software you use on a regular basis, include an overview of how to use the program.
The Company Policy section should detail travel policies and relevant passenger information, computer use, backup procedures and disaster recovery should be included. State how your company handles visitors, meetings and on-site accidents--how they are reported and what steps to take. Specify procurement procedures for reprographics, repair service and supplies. A Forms section will provide examples of standard company forms in the administrative policy and procedures manual could include mileage reimbursement, expense reports, equipment repair, supply requisitions, reporting procedures/forms and employee vacation requests/leave forms. A sample of the forms filled out and a fact sheet help answer potential questions. The Glossary would include special terminology, trademarks and abbreviations.
The administrative policy and procedures manual guides not only the current administrative assistant, but it also serves as an informative reference and quick guide when a temp needs to fill in during vacation or off-time. It may be necessary to create a section of the manual that can be an abbreviated version of the full administrative policy and procedures manual. This allows confidential information to remain private when a short-term temp fillings in and needs only an overview of the position and duties.
The administrative policy and procedures manual will need periodic tune-ups as business changes to meet the technology advances. The administrative assistant is the best person to handle the ongoing editing and amendments as she is the one discovering--first hand--new tools and methods to make her work flow more efficient. The manual is a work in progress; it is not written in stone.
To keep a manual up to date, keep in mind these tips. When a new task is added, include instructions in the manual; if procedures change, be sure to bring the manual up to date. Date each sheet and check periodically to see if information is accurate. Store the instructions on a separate disk or create a training directory on the hard disk. A new employee will then have access to up-to-date instructions.
According to the IAAP, the benefits to having a strong administrative policy and procedures manual establish a clearly defined expectation of the role, create a system of checks and balances that empower the administrative assistant with a coherent and cohesive outline of the value expected and provide room for her to show her talents. The policy and procedures manual also leaves a legacy for temporary and future employees in the event that your company loses a star assistant.