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Reaching Effective Policy Management in Five Steps

Mary Lewinson
February 3, 2012

A few tips on how to make policies employee-oriented

effective policy managementA corporate policy provides a broad understanding of the opportunities and issues an organization deals with. It is a strategic tool that governs the organization’s behavior in the long-term period. Effective policy management creates a framework for directing and restricting that behavior. Through managing the corporate policy effectively the organization determines the rules of conduct for its personnel. It ensures that every worker knows the strategic objectives, shares the company vision, and contributes to overall business success. In this article I talk about the 5 steps for reaching effective policy management. The article describes how to make sure your corporate policy is supported by your staff.

Corporate Policy is a formally documented set of broad guidelines, standards and procedures formulated after an assessment of internal and external factors affecting the company’s strategic behavior. It is defined by the senior management (Board of Directors) to describe and establish the company’s response to known and unknown events and circumstances that arise in the business environment. The Policy aims to formulate the rules of behavior for all staff employed by the company, and to direct and restrict decisions and activities undertaken by the employees.

Managing the corporate policy effectively means guiding and leading employees and their decisions and activities towards the right direction and within the set boundaries. Effective policy management involves a range of steps, as follows:

  1. Create and review the policy
  2. Distribute the policy
  3. Monitor employee responses
  4. Understand what’s wrong and right
  5. Report on policy effectiveness

Below I explain each of the steps and also give a few tips on reaching effective management of the corporate policy.


Step #1. Policy Creation and Review

When you start creating a corporate policy for your business organization, the action thing you must take care of is the right focus. It means the policy’s focus needs to be placed on the employees rather than on auditors and regulatory bodies. The key idea here is that while trying to satisfy the legal department and auditors you will never reach appropriate changes in employee behaviors.

Focusing on the legal aspect should not be the major point of your policy, because regulatory compliance makes the overall organization fit into legal requirements but it never links to workforce. Regulatory compliance improves business performance but it does nothing with employee engagement. By looking impressively to auditors and regulators you create a legal corporate policy full of technical and legal jargon, but this document does not address real behaviors of your workers. Hence, when creating the policy you must treat for the balance reached between the legal aspect and the employee engagement aspect.

Besides, you need to take into account a range of external factors that may have a significant impact on the corporate policy. For example, technology advances may lead to the need for adding necessary changes in information security and procedures. If you do not address this need, your policy will become inadequate and obsolete. Additionally, changes in the law or industry regulations may require frequent adjustments to your policy. You must then track those changes once they happen and modify the policy accordingly. Note that version control through document management software will help you reach this goal.

Tip #1: Create a policy that reaches the balance between both the legal and the human aspects. This document should not be lengthy and overloaded with technical and legal jargon. It should focus on employees rather than laws. Besides, through reviewing and version control you must ensure that the corporate policy is up-to-date and relevant to the real business environment your company operates in.

Step #2. Distribution

The way how your corporate policy is shared with and communicated to personnel determines the success of your effort. Distribution is the second step in the effective policy management lifecycle. Through distributing you must ensure that every worker is aware of the standards, procedures and guidelines defined by the policy. You need to distribute policy updates as soon as they’re released, in a timely and efficient manner. After all, what is the point of spending money on creating the policy if this document is never effectively distributed and read?

Policy distribution is the role that needs to be performed at the senior management level. Managers must ensure a smooth and unimpeded flow of information between departments, teams and individual workers. Meetings and briefings with employees will help communicate policy guidelines and procedures. Managers need to have a systematic and pro-active approach that ensures realization of the policy at workplaces. It is recommended to use an enterprise-wide software solution (a kind of ERP systems) to reduce the risk of distribution failure and to increase employee recognition about the company policy.

Tip #2. Be sure the senior management of your organization has a clear and pro-active strategy for distributing the corporate policy among the staff. Conducting employee meetings, discussions and conferences will help inform every worker of the policy requirements. There should be an enterprise-wide software solution that delivers the policy statement to every workplace in the company.

Step #3. Employee Response Monitoring

Once the policy is distributed among the employees of your business organization, the next step in ensuring policy excellence is to monitor employee responses. Employee Response Monitoring is the third step in the effective policy management lifecycle.

The step requires you to establish and run a monitoring process that gathers data about employee viewpoints and opinions regarding corporate standards and procedures. Such a process aims to ensure that the policy is signed off early by every worker. For example, you want to make sure that new employees sign up to the company’s governance policy on the first day they start their probation period. Having the employees signed off this document your company gains more opportunities for reaching effective management of the employees’ behaviors.

The monitoring process also intends to achieve consent between the company and the personnel. Both parties need to be agreed upon the methods and tools of management. There should be no disagreement about regulatory requirements and workforce management style.

Tip #3. Gather responses of your employees early after the policy is distributed, to ensure document sign-off.  Be sure there is a process that manages the responses and keeps the senior management informed of employee viewpoints and opinions regarding the policy. In such a way you achieve employee consent and reach excellence in policy management.

Step #4 Understanding

Right interpretation of employee responses to the corporate policy paves the way for policy excellence. If you understand what your workers really think about your company, you know what to do to reach desired improvements. Understanding is the forth step in the effective policy management lifecycle.

The step is about reviewing the data obtained from employee responses to measure staff comprehension and policy effectiveness. The goal is, find out if the employees understand the company’s strategic goals, share the corporate vision, and know how to make things better. This goal can be accomplished through testing.

Testing means the practice of communicating with a group through questionnaires, team meetings and discussions to understand how the group comprehends the corporate policy, what they think about it, and what improvement suggestions they make. To follow this practice you need to review employee responses and select those workers who gave the most comprehensive responses. Obviously those workers have a better understanding of the policy.

Through communicating with the workers during special testing discussions and meetings, you can understand their level of comprehension and figure out if they share the principles and ideas of your company policy. The results of the testing activity will be a list of suggestions proposed by the group. Those suggestions are valued because they tell you what exactly is wrong and right and what employee-related improvements can be made to the policy statements. Thus, you are closer to reaching policy effectiveness.

Tip #4. Select and form a testing group of workers to understand their vision regarding the policy and to gather their valued suggestions about policy improvement. The testing practice helps you be sure your company creates a policy that is focused on staff needs while ensuring accomplishment of the strategic business goals.

Step #5. Reporting

Full revision of the history of the policy management process needs to be made to ensure that all the steps are taken and to summarize whether the given policy example reaches its excellence. Reporting is the final step in the effective policy management lifecycle. It requires you to design a report on your policy management activity.

Actually you need to review all the steps done to understand what goals are accomplished, figure out if the policy is effective, and list all improvement suggestions. All this information must be added in your report. Then this report is to be submitted to the senior management team of your organization for review and further decision making.

Tip #5. Summarize all the steps you’ve taken and create a report that tells whether the company policy is effective and whether your personnel commit to following this policy. Then submit the report to the senior management for review and decision making. Now your work is done.

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