Is your business keeping up with the rapid changes in technology and policy? Do your staff have the framework and direction they need to be efficient and effective?
Every business, no matter what industry or size, should have clear policies and processes in place, especially around the appropriate use of their technology and systems. By understanding and following through on these core areas your business will have a clear direction, remain compliant, and be quick to respond to change.
What are policies and processes?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using the terms policy and process interchangeably. But they are different and have unique purposes. Here’s a definition of these terms and their main functions:
Policy – A policy sets out the parameters, guidelines or rules that an organisation should follow. They’re set by senior management and are the guiding principle or direction that an organisation will take on an issue – for example, a policy around the appropriate use of new software. Policies respond to internal changes, such as growth or introducing a new technology, or external changes, like new government policies or industry standards.
Process – A process is an overview of how the policy is going to be carried out. Essentially it provides a road map or a set of methods of how people are going to perform certain activities. The purpose of a process is for everyone to understand what will occur, who will do it, and by when.
Why should my business have clear policies and processes?
- Compliance and reducing your vulnerabilities–Having robust policies in place means your business meets its legal and industry requirements. When you have policies in place that your staff are sticking to, you reduce your risks.
- Establish expectations –By clearly communicating the policies and processes to your staff, they’re more likely to understand their responsibilities and what they can and can’t do. This reduces stress and uncertainty, as people know what is expected of them.
- Manage change and growth – If you document and communicate your policies and processes well, it is easier to delegate tasks, grow, and become more effective. Consider having your policies and processes in a centralised place – such as an online forum that people can access.
- Happier and more effective people – When you give your staff well-defined boundaries, you don’t need to micro-manage them. They’re likely to feel happier, be more empowered to work autonomously, be more productive and make less mistakes because they’ve received clear directions.
- Keep your reputation in tact - A policy also defines the consequences of breaching the guidelines. You need to be seen to be acting consistently and with integrity, and so if someone breaches your policy, you can take appropriate action to correct this.
- Make a stand and assert your ethical position – Strong policies support both your principles and your strategic direction and can determine who you want to do business with and who you most definitely want to avoid. Policies can also include how you represent yourself online – for example, are you always transparent and respectful? When it comes to privacy, how do you store, collect and treat personal information?
Real-world example of policy wording: Software usage.
To prevent being misinterpreted, policy wording needs to be precise and direct. Typically, you’ll see phrases like shall/shall not or must/must not. Your policies should also include what will happen if someone breaks the rules.
Take a look at the wording of this software policy:
Software may only be used by authorised personnel.
The software must be removed from the personal computer if the individual is no longer employed by our business.
The software must not be duplicated.
Any employee found violating this Software Usage policy in any manner is subject to disciplinary action.
By investing some time now into creating clear policies and processes, you can create clarity within your team, become more efficient and reduce mistakes, get ready to achieve your goals and grow, and protect what’s important to you by staying true to your principles.
If you need some help to make sure your policies are right for you and up-to-date, please give us a call.
[AM1]I’d like to finish this with a call to arms, something like “if you aren’t sure if your policies are right for you then give us a call”
Thanks Ant. I've added a call to action now. [GU2]
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