Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Writing Effective Company Policies

This article was written by Bern Lefson, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

One of the areas of management that frustrates the company is written company policies. If you agree with this, you should find the tips below of value.

Writing effective policies involves several basic steps and considerations. A critical first step is for the manager to have a clear vision of the policy’s objectives. Those objectives should serve as a standard for evaluating each aspect of the policy.

With the purpose of the policy established, the manager can proceed with the following steps:

  • State the purpose in the policy so that employees understand the employer’s viewpoint.
  • Plan and construct the policy to support the company’s objectives.
  • Write with a positive approach and expectation.
  • Anticipate barriers to enforcement such as regulatory constraints or difficulties with tracking and monitoring employee behaviors relevant to the policy, and craft the policy in a way that accounts for those factors.
  • State the rules and procedures of the policy, such as who the policy applies to, what must be done to comply, what is prohibited, any known exceptions, and the consequences of failing to comply.
  • When the policy writing is satisfactorily completed, communicate to all employees the purpose of these policies. Be positive in the communication.

Policies should be applied uniformly.

As with most writing, the writer should leave the policy and return later to review and revise it with a fresher perspective. Further, a critically wise move is to have a disinterested person review the policy and give feedback on how the policy looks to someone who is seeing it for the first time. This will assist the manager making the policy more understandable.

Finally, an employer should have policies reviewed by an attorney before implementing them.