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The office manual contains the details of the work to be performed in an office and other important particulars of the organization. It is the source of information, knowledge of which is essential for the performance of the work. It may be in the form of a book or booklet and contains the information which benefits the office staff. If Office employees are supplied with copies of office manual they do not have to approach their superiors again and again. Therefore, they do not interrupt the work of their superiors and there is no wastage of time to office employees (new entrants) as well as to executives (Superiors).
Office manual is useful to the employees, especially new joined, to understand the work without any difficulty. The office manual contains the details of the whole office work such as standard practices, current practices, instructions and organizational policies in such a form that they are easily and readily available to the office personnel for reference and guidance.
An office manual means a handy form of book or booklet containing information relating to the policy, organization system, routines and procedures, methods and standards and the rules and regulations regarding employment.
An office manual is prepared to help the employees know all relevant information regarding the organization, its set up i.e. structure and how he fits into it.
According to George R. Terry, An office manual is a “written record of information and instructions which concern and can be used to guide the employee’s efforts in an enterprise”.
Also, an office manual has been defined as “a document disclosing the information about an organization, its set up, conditions of employment, and the established systems, routines, procedures, methods, standards, rules and regulations of an office operation.”
A large size organization has a number of branches or departments or sections or divisions. Thousands of employees are employed in large size organization. Hence it is very difficult to control the employees by the management. If instructions or guidelines are given in writing to the employees, the management can control the employees very easily and avoid misunderstanding of employees. Office manuals help the management and the employees in various ways.
1. Employees understand their position, duties and responsibilities in an Organization.
2. Employees understand their role in the achievement of office Objectives.
3. There is a possibility of maintaining good relations among the employees by themselves.
4. Both existing and new employees freed the management in getting the same information, explanations and instructions repeatedly.
5. The concerned employees are held responsible if the duties are not performed by them in a specified manner.
6. Delegation of authority can be enhanced throughout the organization set up without much difficulty.
7. Each employee can understand the extent of authority delegated to them.
8. New employees are getting training with the help of office manual by knowing policies, practices, systems, routines and procedures.
9. Office manual is imparting refresher training to existing employees.
1. Policy Manual: Every organization has its own policy which is served as basic guide to action. The entire activities of an organization are fully guided by policy manual. A policy manual contains decision, resolutions and directions of the board of directors stating the policies of the company.
2. Organizational Manual: The organizational manual describes the organization structure. The duties and responsibilities of each employee in department wise or section wise or division wise are explained along with the line of authority and responsibilities connected with them. Each employee can understand the relationship with others. Sometimes, a separate manual is prepared for each department in case of multinational companies.
3. Administrative Practice Manual: Standard methods and procedures for effective performance of work are given in this manual. Separate methods and procedures are given for each department specifically, if needed. This manual also contains guidelines and instructions on education required to an employee and training to employees, format of correspondence and reports, and the inter-relationship of office employees.
4. Departmental Practice Manual: This manual deals with policy of the concerned department, methods and procedures followed in the concerned department. This type of manual is prepared for each department separately.
5. Mailing Manual: A mailing manual gives detailed instructions in all phases of handling both incoming and outgoing mail. The letter drafting procedure is also given in this manual.
6. Filing Manual: The names of the files to be maintained in an office are given in this manual. Besides, the preparation of title and its maintenance are also clearly discussed.
7. Rules and Regulations Manual: Rules and regulations are very much important to every office employee. Everybody should work according to the rules and regulations. Various types of leave are availed by the office employees. The number of such leave and their availing procedure are given in this manual.
8. Historical Manual: An employee should know something about his enterprise. This manual contains brief history of an enterprise. Name and address of the enterprise, founders, objectives for establishing such enterprise, circumstances under which the enterprise is established, capital required and contributed by the founders, registration, coverage of law etc are briefly discussed. This information is highly useful to new entrants in an office.
9. Multi-Purpose Manual or Hand Book: Some offices prefer to have a single manual instead of several manuals such as discussed above; If so, only relevant and important information are combined in the form of a hand book. In such a way, multi-purpose manual is prepared.
The information included in a manual of one office may not be the same of another office. In other words, the contents of a manual are according to the needs and preferences of the concerned office.
The following principles should be observed in preparing manuals:
1. Centralise all authority and responsibility for the office manual programme.
2. Write the level of the employees who is going to use the manual.
3. Prepare and revise the distribution list so that manuals are distributed among the employees without omission.
4. Use simple and direct Language.
5. The material should be arranged in simple manner without much complication
6. The matter should have proper cross referencing and indexing
7. Make use of charts and diagram
8. Revise manuals constantly and highlight changes.
9. Periodic audit should be carried out.
A standard and an orderly procedure should be followed while preparing office manuals. If so, the prepared manual can ensure complete, accurate and comprehensive. The preparation is to be completed within a reasonable period of time. The following steps may be taken while preparing an office manual:
1. Assigning an Individual or Formation of a Committee: An individual is enough to prepare an office manual in small size organization. A committee has to be formed to prepare an office manual in case of large size organization. So, this formality is carried on according to the size of the organization.
2. Preparing the List of Subjects Covered: The responsible executives prepare the list of subjects to be covered in the preparation of office manual. List of subjects vary according to the type of manual preparation. The subjects and topics to be covered should be classified and arranged into logical headings and sub-headings.
3. Receiving Ideas and Suggestions: Ideas and suggestions have to be received from the managers of functional departments and supervisors as per the subjects covered. A time schedule is to be fixed for receiving ideas and suggestions.
4. Verification of Ideas and Suggestions: Received ideas and suggestions have to be tabled and verify the same. Irrelevant and impracticable ideas and suggestions have to be rejected with due care.
5. Classification and Arrangement of Information: The collected information and data have to be classified and arranged under each subject and write them up in subject-wise. The information and data included should be accurate and complete in all aspects.
6. Prepare a Draft Manual: A draft manual is prepared by considering the relevance of the concerned manual. A limited number of copies of such draft manual is typed or cyclostyled for circulation. A copy of draft manual is circulated among the office manager, functional manager, union representatives and top management executives for their criticism. Such criticism is used for the betterment of the preparation of office manual.
7. Revision of the Draft Manual: Suggestions and criticism have been incorporated in improving the manual by adding new points or deleting some points. The style and standard of language can be improved by the process of revision of the draft manual. As for as possible, short sentences and words can be used. The language should be simple and direct.
8. Submission for Approval of Top Management: The revised manual has been placed before the top management for approval. Approval of top management is necessary before the production of the manual.
9. Mechanical Production of the Manual: Arrangement for the production of the manual should be made after the draft is approved by the top management. The type of production of manual is depending upon the number of copies required. Details regarding size, paper cover and binding should be considered before the actual production of manual. The manual should preferably be in a booklet form.
10. Distribution of Office Manual: Copies of office manual are distributed among the employees of an organization on need basis. A few copies are maintained as spare copies which will be used for the future reference and further revision of the manual.
The advantages of Office Manuals are
1. It contains printed instructions and all the important decisions for the execution of the work, so the employees don’t want explanation for the work again and again.
2. It gives readily available printed instruction about system, procedure and duties existing in the organization, so it is easy to train the employees.
3. In large organization which is having many branches, similar type or uniformity of activities can be performed if they have manual
4. The entire work of an office is brought together, studied, examined and incorporated in office manual, so that the activity having less importance can be eliminated.
5. It helps the executives to take decision promptly by referring instructions and policies contained in printed form.
6. When the rules and regulations are in the written format it is easy for the employees to get an idea about their responsibility, duties and authorities. It helps to improve good relation between the employees.
7. When the employees are transferred from one office to another office,with the help of manual they can start their work without delay.
The disadvantages of Office Manuals are:
1. To keep the manual up-to-date is a difficult job
2. It is costly and time consuming process, so it is difficult to have manuals in small firms.
3. If simple words are not used in manuals the employee reading can misinterpret it.
Revision of Office Manuals: Manuals must be revised from time to time. It is necessary to keep them up to date. In revising manuals the following factors should kept in mind
1. The responsibility of revising manual is in the hands of the department that created it.
2. It is necessary to revise the manual as frequent as practicable
3. Where no provision has been made to revise manual and the responsibility of revising them is not fixed, manuals should be discarded.
Office Manuals are useless unless they are properly distributed amongst employees for whom they are meant. In fact, it is they who would be responsible for carrying out the instructions and ideas given in the manuals. Organization manuals may be distributed only amongst the major executives and in rare cases amongst those with lesser responsibility. The different departmental practice manuals should be distributed to departments and employees directly affected by them.
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