The World’s Shortest Employee Handbook

Often the simplest things in life work the best. Sometimes companies overdo their HR and management policies.

Take example of Nordstrom, the 200+ location department store chain. For years, their Employee Handbook was a single 5-by-8-inch grey card with just 75 words:

Shortest employee handbook
Nordstrom’s Employee Handbook

“Welcome to Nordstrom

We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.

Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.”

[Tweet “#employee handbook rule: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules”]

“Keep it simple” applies to many things you as a manager do with and for your employees. Keeping things short is often hard. Like Mark Twain once said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” But once you go the short route, anything becomes much easier to understand and remember for anyone on your team. Start with journaling to increase productivity and focus.

What many Weekdone weekly employee status and performance report users like is how it makes people – both employees as well as managers – focus. Ideally people report just 5-7 key plans for next week and 5-7 accomplishments for the last week to their manager and team mates. That’s a good short report you actually have time to read to know what’s happening in your team. It makes the person think hard, what’s important and what’s not. Too often at work we do a lot of non-urgent non-important things. Why not focus on a few important things instead? That way, you will be able to find time for work that really matters.

Nordstrom by the way has had the highest inventory value per square foot of any specialty apparel retailer in the country, the highest sales per square foot, the highest profit per sale and one of the highest inventory turnover rates – three times the national average.

In the end, 1 hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.

Planning your week