Policies encourage consistency

by | Jun 24, 2024

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Key points

Reasons for policies
Major components
Common mistakes

Reasons for policies

Management develops policies to help guide operations and encourage consistency, essential for efficiency. A policy may set boundaries or clarify something, or it might help mitigate risk or reduce compliance challenges.

Major components

A policy is a formal statement that sets out how a company will act in a particular situation where it has some discretion. The goal is a limited set of relevant and useful policies,

A policy has only four mandatory components, although numerous optional additions exist. The most important part is a clear position statement on a particular situation. The scope of the policy is mentioned (what is covered) as well as who has responsibility for its carriage and how it fits into the company’s review processes.

Common mistakes

There are too many policies
It may be tempting to think that having lots of policies equals having lots of control, but this is rarely the case. It is best to focus on critical aspects of operations. Policy fatigue could mean that many people will ignore them.

The policy does not add value
If there is no choice about what must be done, then there is no point in regurgitating legislation in a policy. The organisation has no discretion about implementing them so restrict policies to items that clarify or add value to regulatory obligations.

The policy is too long
If a policy becomes a novella, it may be satisfying for the writer, but there is every chance that no one will read the whole thing.

The policy is convoluted
A policy that reads like a convoluted exposition full of jargon has limited value. While this might make management feel good, it can confuse operational staff.

The policy is out of date
Sometimes, there is lots of enthusiasm about developing policies, but eventually, interest moves on to other aspects of the business, and old policies are at odds with what is happening in the organisation. This is why a policy must have a review clause.

The policy is not accessible
Policies are high-level documents intended to guide operations, so managers in operational roles must be able to access them easily.

There are no procedures
A policy is a ‘what and why’ document. Staff must know how to activate a policy – they need the ‘how’ document, which is the procedure.