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Policies and Procedures – Who Needs Them and Why?

"My staff are professionals, I don't need a document to tell them how to suck eggs!" 

Yep! A senior manager of a small business said this to me. After I picked my jaw up off the ground, I explained to him that these documents set the frame work for your business expectations, standards and values. They need to be relevant to your business, your industry and your ethos. 

Here is an extract from the definition of a policy, according to the online Business Dictionary:

 “A set of policies are principles, rules, and guidelines formulated or adopted by an organization to reach its long-term goals and typically published in a booklet or other form that is widely accessible.”

 “Procedures are the specific methods employed to express policies in action in day-to-day operations of the organization.” (source: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/policies-and-procedures.html)

A policy should be no more than a one page document that is a statement of purpose and includes broad guidelines on action to be taken to achieve that purpose.

P&P’s are a reference for how your organisation deals with everything from the day to day operational activities and importantly, how your organisation intends to comply with legislation.

These documents are imperative for delivering consistent and high quality products or services to your customers. However, they are also important from a legal standpoint. For example, having a clear policy in place regarding no tolerance to bullying and harassment sets the standard for employees behaviour and acceptance in the workplace.

Therefore, it is most important that policies are reasonable, that employees are aware of them and clearly understand what the policy is trying to achieve.

Having said all of that, simply having these documents in place is not enough. The important values set by you, as the business owner, need to be clearly communicated and understood by your employees. Implementation and walking the talk are just as important as developing them. What is the point of having a document that says all this 'stuff' if it sits in the computer and is not integrated into the business?

So PLEASE, if you are going to take the time and effort to write a policy and corresponding procedures, do not let them sit there so you can say that you 'tick the box'! Ensure they are embedded into your workplace.

What Policies do I need?

That is a very good question! It does very much depend on your business. If you sell products then you may want to implement policies on: Return/Refund, Purchasing , Customer Quality, Conduct and Ethics.

If you employ staff, you may want to implement policies on: Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination, Workplace Safety, Code of Conduct, Leave, Employment Practices, Benefits, Misconduct, Internet and Email Usage.

What happens once I have these documents written?

You makes sure they are known!! Please don't put them in the draw or file them in a 'Policy' folder on your computer and forget about them.  They are live documents that your business depends on.

You will find once policies and procedures are in place that you are sending consistent messages both within and beyond the business.  Customer satisfaction and productivity will increase and you will have comfort knowing that your employees and customers are aware of their behavioural expectations and your business standards.  If then they are not complying, you have the tools to support those difficult conversations, whether it be on breaches in conduct or performance; or that you will not refund the purchase price because the customer has simply changed their mind.

If you need help with any of this...deciding if you need P&P's and if so, what ones do you need, writing them and building plan to ensure they are embedded into your workplace then please give me  a shout! With  15+ years experience in policy and procedure development you will be provided with professional and informed advice.  I will not only work with you to design tailored policies and procedures suitable for your business, I will assist you with embedding them into your workplace - through on-boarding, training and acknowledgement of comprehension. 

Blessings

Bev

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