by Mike Mingus
Many elements go into the day-to-day
operations of an event facility. It could be a new building, one
recently renovated, or an image that has been changed. Finding the right
staff, creating or changing policies and procedures, computer
applications and safety guidelines all require immediate attention.
Facility managers use a facility operations manual as a primary tool in
accomplishing these tasks and many others. An operations manual can be
the most important tool for the staff at your facility. It serves as a
resume for any member of your organization who is involved in the
planning or implementation of any event or activity. It creates an
important record of guidelines, procedures, standards and expectations
of your facility and can be a great tool for training employees to do
things correctly. It allows for consistency throughout the organization.
Why You Need A Manual
• Writing an operations manual will save you time in the long run and
help protect your facility.
• A manual frees you up. Many times employees ask you the same questions
over and over again. By putting the answers in written form in a manual,
you will eliminate the need for employees to always come to you with
questions concerning procedures.
• A manual improves your training. An employee manual serves as a
roadmap to do a job correctly. It tells the employee what his role is.
The more procedures that employees are officially told about, the more
confidence they'll have.
• A manual will improve your consistency of service. The more you leave
to your employees' judgment, the less likely it is that they will do
things the way you want them done. Your customers want consistency.
Standard operating procedures for a variety of situations provide
guidance for your staff.
• A manual reduces staff conflict by stating in writing who is
responsible for specific tasks. The operations manual is usually the
first formal communication that you will have with an employee after
they join your team. In the event of a dispute or poor performance
review, this will be the first place that the employee turns.
• A manual provides a document to back you up if you must fire someone
who then files for unemployment or goes to a labor board with a
What should be included in my Operations Manual?
Facility guidelines, procedures and expectations should appear
in your operations manual, as well as any important information that you
feel should be available to the entire staff. The operations manual
should be the first place a member turns when there is a question about
your facility’s standards or procedures. Major policy statements should
be included as well. Does your organization emphasize teamwork,
informality, and competitiveness? Your employees will see the manual as
a guidepost to the organization’s culture.
examples of policy/ organizational statements are:
• Mission or Vision statement
• We are an equal opportunity employer
• We support and enforce a smoke-free environment
The following areas should serve as a guide
for your operations manual:
• Goals or action plans for the current year
• Organizational chart
• Job descriptions and responsibilities
• Contact information of key staff
• Standard operating procedures (should include standards,
discipline procedures, etc.)
• Media guidelines
• Event procedure checklist
• Safety and liability guidelines (emergency response, keys &
• Any governmental rules that must be adhered to (for local, state
or educational institutions)
• Organizational history
• Calendar of regular events
• Regularly used forms (such as time off requests, maintenance
requests, event charges, event critiques, AV forms, suggestion
• Glossary or index
The last page should be an employee
Instruct your employees to read and sign an agreement acknowledging
that they have read the manual and keep the document on file.
Include a statement similar to the following:
"I have read the Policies and Procedures Manual and hereby
acknowledge a clear understanding of same. In addition, I hereby
agree that as long as “Your Facility” employs me, I will make every
effort to uphold and maintain the policies and procedures contained
therein. It is also my understanding that violation of said policies
and procedures constitutes grounds for dismissal. Set forth and
signed by myself and the employer's top executive."
Include space for the employee's name, the date of signing and a
witness's signature on the document.
How do I use my
This may seem obvious, but your operations manual is useless if your
staff doesn’t know about it and use it. It is important that after
personnel are hired, staff training begins immediately and an operations
manual will be needed to assist in this process. Having a well-written
and easy-to-understand manual is a key in this process. Staff needs to
know what is expected of them, as well as have a reference guide for
assistance. A training manual and training sessions will create a more
proficient organization. The operations manual is an important element
that should be used as part of your new staff-training program while
your seasoned employees need to refer to the manual on occasion as a
reminder and to find solutions to problems. You should consider making
the manual more user friendly by placing it online, creating videos, or
CD-ROMS. They are easy to do and will assure that every staff member
always has access when they need it. Your manual should be updated
annually. Designate a staff member to be responsible for its
maintenance. Remember that by outlining guidelines, procedures and
standards your facility staff has a responsibility to act accordingly.
To transform your operations manual from a statement of expectations
into daily actions, you need to reinforce it with training, leadership
How do I find information to create my Operations Manual?
• Review your facility’s mission or vision statement
• Check your facility’s files from previous years as they hold valuable
information for procedures and for organizational history
• Check on your governing agency’s rules and regulations
• Search the various resources that exist online
• Most importantly: contact your peers from around the country. Many
operations manuals already exist and most other facilities are more than
happy to share this information.
To avoid creating problems for yourself or the organization have an
attorney review your manual before you print copies for employees.
Ensure that all the procedures you outline in your manual fall within
the boundaries of the law. The manual may be considered to be legally
binding in the event of a dispute or an unfair employment practice
Creating an operations manual is an exciting and important step
for any facility. The operations manual defines every expectation, duty,
product and procedure required to run the facility. Because of this, the
operations manual becomes the core document from which everything is
developed. Keeping it updated and finding ways to incorporate its
content into ongoing staff training is important. The operations manual
standardizes the facility’s expectations and "sets the bar" for the
manager’s quality of product, service and image.
Mike Mingus is operations supervisor at the Modesto Centre Plaza in
Modesto, California. He may be contacted at