Uniformity may not be something we strive for in certain areas of our lives—our kitchens, our calendars, or our wardrobes. But when it comes to “policies and procedures,” the name of the game is, in fact, uniformity, uniformity, uniformity. Because policies and procedures touch every facet of your corporate compliance, their standardization, updates, and distribution are just as important as the actions and operations they regulate. So how do you give your policies and procedures the attention they deserve? Stick with us for a primer course below.
Why Policies and Procedures are Important
For every department and corporate undertaking, policies and procedures seek to organize and mobilize your organization’s talent and time in a manner that is free from friction, recourse, or ambiguity. Want to launch that new product? Thinking about overhauling your CX experience? Dreaming about that next acquisition? Your policies and procedures must be in tip-top shape in order to achieve your business objectives. Beyond expansion and improvement, your policies and procedures help shape your compliance objectives and prevent any costly surprise or infraction.
Think about the last event invite you received. For both virtual and in-person events, the invite detailed the where/when/why of the event, reducing anxiety from attendees. Have you ever received a wedding invite without a dress code? The difference between black-tie and cocktail may not feel like the most important detail about the upcoming nuptials, but for an anxious attendee, it might be the difference between an RSVP and a no-show. Your policies and procedures address pertinent issues, such as what constitutes acceptable behavior by employees or how management is kept accountable.
Need another metaphor? An actor may be able to improvise without a script, but some are better at an extemporaneous performance than others, and that rare effervescent performance is definitely not replicable or predictable. Your employees will appreciate thoughtful and uniform policies and procedures that accurately set expectations because they will act like a script and help them shape and define processes. When your business makes action effortless and well-defined, your employees can spend more time putting one foot in front of the other on a consistent path, rather than stressing about how unclear their next steps are. Uniformity may not be the most exciting element in your policies and procedures, but it is certainly the one that will help move obstacles out of your path on the way to big moves and a compliant workplace free from policy violations.
What is the Difference Between
Policy and Procedure?
A policy is an established course of action, providing guidance towards approved business objectives. A policy acts as general guidance for consistent and accountable action.
- Are described in simple language
- Describe why they exist and who they cover
- Outline the consequences of an infraction and how the rules are enforced
A procedure is the plan of action, putting the policy into practice with an accurate road map to follow. A procedure is an efficient and clear set of marching orders; think of them as a checklist for action and related follow-through actions.
- Are detailed and written to describe sequential and specific actions
- Describe alternatives and examples
- Explain how missteps will be handled, giving detailed explanations of consequences
How to Develop Policies and Procedures
that Fit Your Company
Just like with fashion, one size does not fit all when it comes to developing policies and procedures for your organization. A Fortune 500 company has wildly different needs for their policies and procedures compared to the needs of a local mom-and-pop shop. Before thinking about what your particular policy and procedure needs are, you must look at the how; that is, how you will enforce and organize your policies and procedures. Communicating your policies and procedures with your employees has to be clear, concise, and free from any ambiguity. If your employees are not able to regularly access the documents you’ve spent so much time drafting, then you might as well just call it a day. Moreover, if you are unable to track which documents have been distributed to what employees, you might as well be shouting into a void. This is where the uniform distribution of documents comes in; consider a tool like Convercent’s Policy Manager to track your policies and procedures, as well as employee attestations to those documents.
Now, when it comes to the what, you will need to consult your in-house experts when formulating your policies and procedures. Don’t forget that your employees, your boots on the ground, are a huge resource and their input is incredibly valuable when it comes to generating new policies and procedures; don’t just speak to department heads or C-Suite executives, but all related stakeholders. Think of them as your designated policy owners and subject matter experts in order to eliminate any gaps in your policies and procedures. For example, you should contact your marketing team when developing a social media policy for your organization.
When looking at the what, don’t forget to link your policies and procedures to your company’s values and ethics. Of course, your policies and procedures are put in place to maintain compliance to laws and regulations, but when they align to your values, they will be easier to enforce internally. Remember that your organization may have multiple departments, but your policies and procedures must remain consistent and uniform across the organization in order to eliminate ambiguity and miscommunication.
Once they have been written, consider integrating policies into trainings and make sure that employees who will be expected to adhere to specific policies are fully trained on what they look like in practice. Does your organization conduct a formal onboarding? Do you conduct quarterly trainings? Are your annual reviews formalized? Consider every regular and recurring business session or assembly to be opportunities to go deep into your policies and procedures. By regularly addressing your policies and procedures in both formal and informal settings, you will set your organization up for success by ensuring that every employee knows the lay of the land and their specific expectations.
Feel like your policy management could use a refresh? Fill out the form below to download our guide, The Secret to Effective Policy Distribution, and you’ll learn how to set up a winning policy distribution campaign, report on its effectiveness, and get a bonus policy template.
Effectively Distribute Policies to your Employees
From policy creation, to campaigns, to reporting