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Why We're Writing A Company Handbook

One of the things that Matt & Dan are proud of at Tighten is our company's values — we want to be good to our clients, be good to our employees, and be good to the world. I still remember listening to them explain the company's values to me during my job interview, and making sure that we never lose sight of those values is something I think about often.

Tighten is also a company that's growing at a steady pace. We had three new employees start in the second half of 2015, and one of the biggest challenges with growing your company is making sure that your reputation and, yes, your values don't diminish as you expand. This challenge immediately came to mind when Dan and Matt asked me at my six month review to put together what they called a 'company handbook'.

The idea of a 'company handbook' isn't a new one — they've existed in larger companies for probably as long as HR departments have been around, and Thoughtbot's Playbook is a great example of how a company handbook can work outside of the stereotypical HR department. My goal, however, is to do more than just copy what Thoughtbot already has done and throw a Tighten logo on it. I'm trying to take the opportunity that Matt and Dan have given me to do more than just document things like our time off policy, so naturally my goals are a little bigger.

There are three 'big picture' goals I'm trying to accomplish with the Tighten Handbook:

  1. Make sure everybody who works at Tighten understands what our values are.
  2. Decrease the amount of time we spend and the amount of stress we feel when on-boarding new employees by having a concise but comprehensive handbook to guide the process.
  3. Reduce any fear that existing employees have of asking a 'stupid question' regarding an existing policy or process that we have in place by making it easy to search and hopefully find answers.

It wasn't too long into the process of creating our handbook when I immediately realized that maybe our processes aren't exactly as universally agreed upon as we thought, and maybe we have a pretty agreed upon vague definition of our values, but maybe we don't have it written down exactly. It turns out that one of the greatest benefits to writing up a company handbook is that it allows you to spend time discussing and refining things that you might have thought everybody already agreed on. Writing a company handbook isn't just for your hypothetical future employees — it's for the company you have right now.

If you're reading this and you're in charge of a small company, then you're going to want a company handbook for all the reasons I've listed. But even if you're not the boss — maybe you're a PM, or a developer, or a designer. You should be advocating for a company handbook as well — you should want clarity on your company's values, and well documented processes so that if somebody has to take time off, things don't stop moving.

I know that Dan and Matt (my bosses) want a company handbook, but what I'm really hoping for is that Adam, Ansell, Benson, Chelsea, Jamison, Keith, and Samantha all want a company handbook as well. They absolutely deserve one.

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