Professional school management – as in any other business – depends on several dozen tasks performed daily by a team of employees. How can we ensure that this process runs smoothly and without interruption? In a recent article on our blog, „How to delegate duties in a language school?” one of the things I mentioned was creating procedures for my staff. I realize that most people associate procedures with unnecessary bureaucracy or a rigid pattern of actions and behavior that must be followed.
Admittedly, the word itself immediately associates with something complicated, boring, and cumbersome, like most of the so-called paperwork. It doesn’t have to be that way! See how well-designed procedures can benefit the language school owner and her/his staff and how to write them!
Why should every language school owner have written procedures?
Running an Educational Business is governed by its laws. Most often, the owner acts as a teacher, methodologist, head of marketing, crisis management staff, and the main data administrator. Why is this happening? Most often because:
- you know how to do every task, and in your school, only you know it.
- everything that happens has to be approved and verified by you,
- you are the only one who knows how to handle a problem.
If you dream of automating your language school and you are looking forward to the moment when it will work smoothly, without your interference in every little detail, then the procedures will be your greatest ally. Imagine going on vacation and not having to check your phone, and your email, and make sure the class is going to happen, and all the invoices have been paid on time. Sounds good, doesn’t it? So let’s see…
What are the procedures?
Procedures, this is not a set of rules and obligations, contrary to popular belief. Of course, this may be the case, depending on the intention of the person who creates them. However, well-designed procedures are a set of instructions and tips that you can use to explain all the processes that occur in the workplace. It is also the written point-by-point, employee behavior, or the course of the process in the company. Shows who should perform specific actions, how, and in what order. They are designed to improve the performance and accuracy of your team, during repetitive tasks. Not all processes in your school need to have procedures, but surely your team does a lot of repetitive work that can happen without you.
Advantages of implementing procedures in a language school
It is said that well-written procedures save up to 3 hours of your employee’s time per day! And in the end, yours, which is their main advantage. Suppose your team grows or an administration employee has to go overnight for longer sick leave. The recruitment process itself can be extremely time-consuming and immediately followed by the stage of employee onboarding. Procedures will help new team members learn rules and systems, without your or your staff’s involvement. This way, you won’t have to spend time teaching and explaining things like how to prioritize what you’re doing, how to log into the system, and how to settle with a student/teacher, and you’ll have more time to train employees on more complicated activities.
By putting everything in one place, the school saves time both when it comes to the performance of tasks by an experienced employee, who e.g. was promoted and the scope of her/his duties changed, and the newly employed. You do not have to explain everything again, you just have to refer them to a specific procedure.
Knowing and having all the steps in one place, you can at any time correct the erroneous task because the procedures organize and simplify the scope of the performed activities. It is also easier to pick up where the error occurred and whether it is human or technical.
Development and improvement of procedures
Procedures are like a strategy of action: when you break down the problem into prime factors, it is easier to see what needs to be changed and improved. Thanks to such treatments, your school will click like clockwork!
Maintain a high standard
The ongoing updating of procedures ensures that the expertise in the language school is maintained. Sometimes an employee with valuable skills and knowledge leaves. And with her/his departure, there are problems because she/he was the only person able to handle a key management program, for example. By standardizing this knowledge, you avoid this kind of situation.
When you write down procedures and allow your team to work on their own, you teach them independence. This will allow you to limit your role to controlling the work and supporting your team in concrete activities. Eventually, you’ll be on holiday, without fear that the school will suffer losses during this time or be ill-prepared to start a new semester.
- better organization of work,
- increase the sense of responsibility and autonomy of employees,
- improving the customer service quality.
Remember that procedures do not have to resemble official and dry OHS regulations. There can still be room for creativity and individuality in your school, but using standard means.
How to create procedures?
To avoid turning the procedures into a „set of rights and obligations”, you should also include in them the goals, philosophy, and values that guide your language school. It is even advisable:) Thanks to this, new employees will get to know you better, and for those more experienced it will be easier to maintain their motivation at a high level.
Firstly, the objective
Procedures must not obscure the target. If your goal is to be open to the student, and the procedures are very rigid and do not allow for a flexible approach, then you should change them. So before you start writing down everything that comes to your mind, answer the question:
1. What is your school like?
2. What values does it hold?
3. Who is it to serve?
Answers to these questions should be in the introduction of your document. In the next steps, it is worth writing down the general rules of the school, the processes taking place in the language school, and at the very end also the procedures and instructions.
Where to start?
If your school is still growing or it is a single-person business, it will be much easier for you. If from the very beginning, you will write down a strategy and instructions for action, then when your activity develops, it is enough that you will gather them into a logical whole. However, if your language school is already in the market for some time, but you regularly see the same mistakes, shortcomings, or misunderstandings in communication with customers, then this is your zero point.
How to write procedures in a language school?
1. List departments and operations
Take a close look at your school and list all the activities that are being done in it. If you run a network of schools, you can ask the heads of specific departments. In language school, we usually distinguish:
- customer service.
Write down standards, emergency response schemes, and procedures for each of these activities. In the case of sales, these can be, for example, conversation templates, price negotiation rules, preparation of the offer, and signing of contracts.
Once you’ve written down the areas of action, you might want to prioritize them. It’ll be easier for you to figure out where to start. Each school is different and requires different actions. Ask yourselves what is most important to you and whether there is currently any factor that exposes your school to financial losses, does not allow you to increase sales, causes dropping out of courses, or causes a conflict in the team.
3. Establish procedures and instructions
It’s going to be by far the most time-consuming part, but fortunately, you only do it once, and then you modify it if necessary. You can also brainstorm with your employees. Being on the front line of contact with customers and a given department, they can have a lot of valuable comments. Here you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What steps do I need to take in an action?
- What programs should I use and how do I use them?
- Who is involved in the process?
- Who is responsible?
- Where to find the necessary information (files, folders)?
- Is there a ready template that can be used?
This is the last step! After you have written down all the information, be sure to test the procedure according to the given instruction and see if it is intuitive for everyone. Preferably, this should be done by someone who has not performed a given activity before. You may find that the lack of one word is decisive in understanding your message and you may need corrections.
The form of your guide to the rules and procedures may vary depending on what you wish to convey. For example, you can record a video for new employees about the history of your school’s foundation or your values. If you have it on your website, for example, you can attach it to the document in the form of a hyperlink.
Be sure to inform your employees when you enter the final version. Don’t forget to tell them what your decision is and what the benefits are. People don’t like to change their habits. Especially those related to the performance of work and there may be resistance to novelties. Therefore, how you present your decision will determine the type of reception you will meet with. It may be that the employees will be enthusiastic about the whole project and will get involved in it immediately. And this is what I wish you with all my heart 😉 Have you ever thought about introducing procedures in your language school? Please let us know in the comments below.