“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” (R. Reagan)
Policies and Procedures are two words frequently heard in the business world and there is often confusion between the two concepts.
What is an Organizational Policy?
A Policy defines an outcome; it is a premeditated rule set by a business to guide organizational direction, employees and business decisions, and to regulate, direct and control actions and conduct. Policies can range from a broad philosophy to a specific rule. They are the direct connection between a company’s Vision and its daily operations and the underpinnings to a company’s culture.
What is an Organizational Procedure?
A procedure is a means to an end. Procedures are step by step instructions, prescribing an exact sequence of action. A procedure explains how to and who (which position) will implement the policy. Procedures are specific, factual and succinct. They may include timelines, specific forms to be used and template forms. Procedures assist in eliminating common misunderstandings which can result in costly mistakes.
What is the difference?
Together Policies and Procedures empower a process by providing clear and concise direction necessary for consistent operation. The essential differences are outlined below:
– General in nature
– Identify company rules
– Explain why rules exist
– Explain when the rule applies
– Describe to whom (what position) it applies
– Explain how it is enforced
– Describe consequences
– Provide guidance for managerial thought and action
– Flexible – allows for discretion
– Identify specific and alternative actions
– Explain when to take actions
– Describe emergency procedures
– Include warnings and cautions
– Give examples
– Show how to complete a specific form
– Prescribe how to carry out the action through step by step instruction
– Less flexible – concise and exact sequence of activities
Why does a company need Organizational Policies?
Policies and Procedures (P&Ps) are essential when a company requires consistency in its daily operations. They provide clarity and direction re: accountability. P&Ps assist companies in meeting legal requirements set out by the Employment Standards Act, the Human Rights Code, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and numerous other compliance requirements.
A properly written policy and/or procedure allows employees to understand their roles and level of responsibility and conduct their job by making decisions within predefined boundaries. By implementing P&Ps, management can provide guidance to employees without needing to micromanage, freeing managers to focus on strategic thought.
P&Ps allow the workforce to not only understand the accountabilities and responsibilities of their own position, but also that of their co-workers, which can foster a cooperative work environment.
How big should a company be to consider implementing Policies and Procedures?
With as few as six employees there will be recurring issues. Productivity and efficiencies both from a legal and operational standpoint can be gained through the implementation of P&Ps.