The worst situation in any situation is to lay back doing nothing or not able to do anything about the situation. The decision to do anything is what necessitates policy. Policies are situational while rules are made for governance and will not be time bound like policies. Although, certain policies may become rules for governance if the situation demands it. This write up is basically discussing policy. Policies, why do we need them? Why do we formulate them? Who and how should formulate them? What do they do for us?
Policies are either process or behavioural oriented. Policies will serve its purpose if (i) it draws information (i.e. written or orally handed) from past conditions/situations that bear on the present need for any policy to be formulated/implemented. (ii) there is adequate understanding of what the real situation is presently. (iii) there is provision to re-evaluate the policy in the light of present and future occurrences or none. Policy is a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in the light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions having to do with situations relating to behaviour in and/or processes of an organization. Policies are formulated as a guide or used for policing behavioural pattern or processes of an organization in any giving situation. Policing is to supervise the operation, execution, or administration of someone or something to prevent or detect and prosecute violations of rules and regulations.
Performance and compliance (policing) are checked against established goals and targets (policy) in the function of an individual or organization. There are individual (private) and pubic policies, national and foreign policies and, organizational (corporate) policies. This write up is directed at organizational (corporate) policies. However, the line of reasoning discussed here can be used to address other forms of policies.
Policies are to goals and targets what medications are to ill health. Anyone continuing with a prescribed medication after an illness, will end up ruining his health. Likewise, any organization’s policy held on after its purpose is served will become counter productive. Such organization will have a handful of disgruntled employees in its employ. Before going further, let me at this point share with you a graph I made to create a mind picture of how policy formulation and implementation will be discussed.
The graph shows three areas relating to policy: policy making, policing policy, and policy re-evaluation. Policy making – when there are organizational situations, management make policies (either process or behavioural) to manage or eliminate the situation. What will enable management to put fit for purpose policies in place under any prevailing situation? Are there situations in the past (organizational history) that may have a bearing on the present situation? Policing policy – once policies are made and implemented, management should side by side put parameters in place to measure the effectiveness of the policy. Is it really fit for purpose under the prevailing situation? Should it have been process policy order than behavioural policy? Are all complying understandably with the policy? Who and how is the policy to be driven? Policy re-evaluation – depending on the severity of the situation and level of accomplishment management anticipates, policies can be short, medium or, long term. If there is clear reason to make a policy to become a rule, it should be communicated same. Do all recognize the duration of the policies? Is there management recognition of when any policy has out lived its purpose?
Policies are good to be in place in an organization but not all policies will be met with satisfaction by all in an employ, especially if it is a misplaced policy. Management can minimize the extent of disaffection for any policy by adding employee face to policies that are formulated. If management think of policies as impacting on employee’s lives and that they were at one point or the other employees at the same level of the employees whom they now make policies for, they’ll have the least or no resistance at all against any policy formulated/implemented.
Putting employee (Personnel Policy) face to policy: Management should test a policy before implementation. It is not enough for management to conclude that those in their employ will cooperate with any policy even when it’s obvious their interest is not served. Some organizations use employee survey to put employee face to policy but it depends on managements’ sincerity to make use of such survey to proffer fit for purpose policies. People bring about situations but something makes people bring about situations. Management main focus should be what brought about the situation and not who are involved in the situation. This should be obvious to employees.
Unbiased view of subordinates (Personnel Policy): Management still have the human factor in them so they are bound to make humanly mistakes in their decisions. However, if management decision to make certain policy is to curtail the behavioural pattern of just a section of its employ, this will not be a good framework for organizational behavioural (personnel) policies to be made. The other employees will not see the reason for such policy other than that management is insensitive to their wellness. Such policies are bound to meet with reprisals. Behavioural policies should appear to be managing situations that involves people in an organization not to manage the people in the situations. So, management will have better success with policies if attention is giving to the situation other than some supposed personal differences with subordinates. Policies will be counter productive if it’s intent is to police people and hiding away from the real situation.
Weigh the options (Process and Personnel Policy): Since policies are meant to make or eliminate negative situations, there are alternatives to managing the situations. Management need not settle for an alternative but should analytically weigh all the options in the light of giving conditions or situations. The preference should be alternatives that reduces or eliminates the situation and not deprive those in their employ job satisfaction.
Check on Policy (Process and Personnel Policy): The mechanism for checking on the excesses (viability and duration) of any policy is unionism. An effective unionism serves the interest of both management and subordinates. Unionism can give validity to or take validity away from policies be it process or behavioural policies. The failure of unionism is inability to discern the real issues to give unbiased support, advice and, communication to either management and subordinates. Since processes are implemented by personnel, proper for management to be open to any impact the process policy have on personnel.
Management should be interested in how the policies play out in the overall performance and job satisfaction of its employees. It is the employees that give life or lack of it to any policy that management comes up with. So, the question management should be ready to answer while formulating and implementing a policy is “if they’ll be ready to re-evaluate certain policy if there is kick back from their subordinates”. Management very often feels it’s staying in control insisting on certain policies that has out live its purpose or value. If management becomes insensitive to the pulse of those for whom policies is to help manage bad situations, it will become management devaluation leading to strikes and protests.
Since policies are supposed to police situations not people, management should consider whether the situation(s) requires a policy or just a meeting to address the situation(s). It matters a lot why and how any policy is formulated and implemented.
Every policy made brings responsibility on both management and their subordinates. It is healthy for management to avoid a clergy laity relationship in the formulating and implementing of any policy. It fosters good feelings on the part of subordinates to observe that management is taking the lead in breathing life into the policy.
Look at this scenario. Management come up with the policy that thirteenth month salary will be stopped (process policy) because the company’s profit margin has been dropping (situation). All in the employ can relate with the situation and agreed to put up with the policy (policing policy). Two to three years down the line after obvious improvement in the company’s profit margin, management still holds out such policy (lack of policy re-evaluation). It’s even worst off that staff can observe management is doing stuff to look after their own corporate wellness.
Situations come and go. Therefore, policies that help manage any bad situations should end along with the situation. If there is continued police presence after the police had helped to manage crisis situation, it leaves uneasiness in the minds of the people for whom the police presence was required. Often, in job performance, colleagues make the statement “it’s the company’s policy”. That could be right and the same time wrong. In making policies, management should think of policies in the light of short, mid, and long-term policies. The severity of the situation and what management wants to achieve should inform such forethought. Process policies may be implemented in longer periods than personnel policies. Some process policy may end up as rules for governance of the overall business of an organization.
Short-Term Policies: Short-term policies look at the characteristics of the organization in the present and develops strategies for improving them. Examples are the skills of the employees and their attitudes. The condition of production equipment or product/service quality problems and, change to new computer operating systems are also short-term concerns. To address these issues, management put short-term policies to address the situation. Employee training courses, equipment servicing and, quality control measures require short-term policies. These policies set the stage for addressing situations more comprehensively in the long term.
Medium-Term Policies: Apart from the short-term policies, an organization also requires having certain medium-term policies. The purpose of medium-term policies is to help in the implementation of the long-term policies of the organization. For example, it is possible that a business organization may have developed a product as part of its medium-term policy and therefore, the research that is being conducted to find the unfulfilled demands of the customers can be adopted as a medium-term policy. This is more of process policy.
Long-Term Policies: Long-term policies of an organization can be described as the policies that are used for providing a unified direction to the organization and which require the commitment of significant resources of the organization. In this way, the long-term policies provide direction to the organization in its efforts to achieve its objectives. Therefore, it is very important that the long-term policies can support the goals of the organization. All long-term policies are process policies.
Principles begets laws same as rules begets policies. Policies are easier formulated and implemented when all in an organization can identify with the organizational and/or national rule that validates it. What is the difference between rules and policies? Organizations design their policies on the basis of rules applied by regulatory authorities AND their business objectives. Policies basically give a direction to the organization that is in line with both applicable laws and aims that business wants to achieve.
RULE OF POLICY
Since policies become biding on the process and/or behavioural pattern of all in an organization when formulated and implemented, proper to be aware of rules for formulating and implementing policies:
Formulation: Policies formulated has both nature and legislature of the country as the limiting factor of what will be an acceptable form of policy. In order words policies formulated should not be bigger than the law of nature nor the legislature of the country in which the organization operates in.
Law of nature: Any policy infringing on the law of nature will obviously fizzle away naturally as it will run contrary to how humans natural behave. Management will be pulling the cart against the horse insisting on a policy that runs amok the law of nature.
Legislature: There are specific laws that governs the area of operation of any organization. Such laws form the frame work of the organization. Policies can be made to help all in an organization relate with and abide by the legislature of the country that impacts on the organization’s area of operation. Policies made in this direction is part of the long-term policy of the company. Such policies most often takes the appearance of a rule or becoming a bylaw of the organization.
Bylaws: When policy eventually takes the nature of law, management may want to observe its practical nature and yet come up with policing policy to impress it further in the minds and heart of all in the organization.
Risk Assessment: Some likely question to ponder in assessing the risk are: What is the severity of the situation requiring policy formulation? Is the situation involving all in the organization? What is the most likely impact of the situation? What form and duration should the policy take?
Regulatory bodies: Suffice to say that management need to get the pulse of the regulatory bodies in place in their type of operation in formulating policy to police certain situations. Policies put in place to manage any situation should not be bigger than the biding regulatory body in the area of operation.
Organizational History: Depending on the years of operation of an organization, there are past situation that can be helpful in formulating policies for current situation. Good to give thought to how a similar situation was policed, who was present then that is still in the organization that can shed more light or was the situation documented along with the policy that policed it and saved up somewhere, how long was the situation successfully policed and, what are the similarities and differences between the past and present situation.
Implementation: How policies are implemented may be the undoing of the policy. Policies forced down the throat of all in any organization. Whether it is process or behavioural policy, it is human resources in an organization that is been impacted on.
Responsible Party: Careful consideration should be giving to level of policing to be giving a policy before implementation. Who is to lead the policy to ensure compliance.
Engagement: What level of engagement is required to keep all in the organization at ease with the formulated policy.
Diversity and Inclusiveness: Part of the engagement should be how the policy may impact some in a multinational organization and, the likely varying impact on the sexes. This should be communicated clearly and management should welcome feedback with an open mind. If there is need for further negotiations, it may be allowed.
Training and awareness: The mere feeling that a formulated policy will derive its objective on the part of management does not make any policy fit for purpose. What level of awareness and training is required to bring employees up to speed with the policy should be part of management strategy at policing policies.
This step is probably the most important, but sadly it is one that is very often forgotten. Employees maybe tired of constant changes, and they surely won’t welcome another one especially if it means more work for them.
Therefore, it is very important to explain to your employees why such a policy or procedure is necessary – why it is good not only for the company, but also for themselves.
Sometimes training will be necessary – it would be wrong to assume that everyone possesses the skills to implement new activities. For you, who wrote this document, it may seem easy and self-evident, but for them it may seem like brain surgery.
While it is appropriate to follow recognized steps in formulating and implementing policies, it only remains a step if the policy is not fit for purpose and cannot be checked against past and current situations to determine the life span (policing) of any policy.