Division operations manual are necessary resource

A well-defined operations manual can guide the process for training new leaders and for ensuring division policies and bylaws are followed

"How do I pay this invoice?" "Who is supposed to mail the newsletter?" "When was our division started?" These are all questions that new leaders of a division may ask, in hopes of not only acclimating themselves to their new jobs, but also to make sure they are doing the best job they can in their new leadership role. By creating and utilizing an Operations Manual, these questions can be answered and the process of acclimating new leaders to their jobs can be much smoother.

Drafting an operations manual can be a cumbersome task--just ask any of the divisions who have volunteered samples of their manuals below. When you combine that with the fact that your division's operations are ever-evolving, it can seem like you're chasing a moving target.

The tips below are designed to get your division started on the road to creating, revising or updating your operations manual. At the end, you'll find several operations manual (that come in various forms) from divisions who graciously offered to share theirs.

Step 1

Create a table of contents for what will be included in your manual. Remember to include historical information about your organization (major projects, past officers, etc.), policies and procedures, membership practices, budgeting and financial practices, and job duties for each officer. By looking at the manuals below, you can get ideas for what you may want to put in yours. Remember that as you attempt to write down policies that are currently unwritten, consult your bylaws so that you don't create policies that go against what your members have voted on. And remember, procedural issues, such as detailed duties for division positions, are much better placed in operating procedures rather than bylaws. That way changes can be made by vote of your executive committee rather than your membership.

Step 2

Define a timeline for the creation of your manual and break up duties accordingly. Solid operations manuals are ever-evolving and don't have to be completed right now. Maybe the goals of your current executive board is just do document job duties for each position?

Step 3

Think about the format and longevity of your document. Some divisions keep theirs on their Web site for members and officers to easily access, while others share only with members of the leadership board or council. As you consider the format, think about who will maintain the "official copy," and include that in the opening of your operations manual. Also think about what the policy will be for updating and approving changes to your operations manual and include this in the opening of your manual.

Step 4

Don't be afraid to seek input. The DIVOFFICERS listserve is a great source to turn to to ask other divisions for advice and input, or to seek out similar position-holders in other divisions. If you need help writing your social media policy, the APA Office of General Counsel can provide you samples.