Policies: Ten Top Tips
Want some quick advice on how to write really good policies? We’ve got just what you need.
- Do use plain English. No one is going to remember a bunch of fancy, and usually superfluous, words (like that one). Write it like you speak it and the message will ring clear.
- Do keep it simple. No-one can follow rules they don’t understand. Avoid all confusion by keeping your policies simple and straight forward.
- Do use common sense. You can’t go wrong with something that naturally feels right. If it doesn’t need to be explained, or is already covered by contracts or legislation, then maybe you don’t need a policy for it.
- Do make them easily accessible. People can’t follow your policies if they don’t know where, or how, to find them. Make your policies easy to locate, either on your website, your intranet, at the front desk, or even framed on the wall. If people can’t access them, they may as well not exist.
- Don’t be too prescriptive. Don’t stifle innovation by explaining everything in finite detail. Having too many sub-clauses can also bind you in ways you didn’t expect, which brings us to our next point.
- Don’t be too binding. Committing yourself to certain actions at certain times kills all flexibility. It also leaves you exposed to claims you’re not following your own policies. For example, don’t commit to a regular date for performance reviews if you can’t realistically stick to it. Your employee could later say you broke your own rules, leaving you open to litigation.
- Don’t write too many. Let’s be realistic, people can only remember so much. If you give staff too many things to practically absorb, chances are, something’s going to get lost.
- Don’t make them too long. Like sentences, lengthy policies lose people along the way. Keeping them short will also keep them memorable.
- Don’t be too technical. Even the most obvious values – like anti-bullying or safe workplaces – can get lost in mumbo jumbo. If your staff need a dictionary, a manual, or a whisky in order to process your policy, chances are they won’t fully understand it. Basic is best.
- Do be consistent. Don’t put one thing in your policy and another thing in your guidelines. Make sure your policies are the over-riding values that all other company procedures and contracts support.
So there you have it. Ten top tips on how to create effective polices. Keeping to these will help you reinforce the values central to your organisation. If you want further advice on how to write (or re-write) your core policies, don’t hesitate to call us.