First let’s address when it’s NOT a good idea to create a new policy. When a manager or supervisor thinks it’s easier to make a policy than deal with a performance issue with one or a few people, they are going to find themselves in a heck of a mess. It’s not a good idea to subject everyone to a policy that is generated by the misdeeds or misunderstandings of a few. That’s the job of the manager, and that’s performance management.
Now that we’ve dispensed with that, here are 4 key things to consider in determining whether you need a new policy or not:
1. When safety is a real concern.
2. When structure is needed for a chaotic situation – e.g. there is no dress code and the people who meet with customers/public, dress in a wide array of outfits that sometimes do and do not reflect the company’s values or desired image.
3. When consistency is crucial to business strategy, bottom-line and/or fairness – e.g. internal ethics, attendance, PTO, benefits, parking, travel expense policy, etc.
4. When laws and/or regulations external to the organization are driving the rules of behavior or operation.
People often confuse process with policy. They are not the same. Process is “how” something gets done; policy is “what” will or must be done. For example, you may have a hiring process with steps 1-5 that you mostly adhere to, yet you may choose to flex and change when specific circumstances require it. However, you will likely have a hard and fast policy that says you will not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. and that policy does not flex, ever.
Rule of thumb – less is more when it comes to policies. You need enough policies to create appropriate structure and consistency, help all your people understand the “rules of the game,” and no more. Focus your efforts on having good processes and good leaders conducting good performance management, day to day, and you won’t need a lot of policies. I95