If you’ve followed my blog posts, you know that I am a proponent of “real” mission driven organizations. Real mission-driven organizations operationalize the vision, mission, values and goals through the effective use of policies and procedures. Let me be clear, I did not like developing, reviewing and updating policies and procedures. As an extrovert, it was a tedious and boring task. However, keeping policies and procedures up-to-date is essential to helping organizations survive and thrive in an ever-changing world.
Some organizations post vision, mission and values statements for public consumption, but seldom revisit them. It’s not that executives, managers and front-line workers purposely ignore them; day-to-day operations consume a lot of time. Pausing operations for periodic reviews will ensure the mission, service delivery and everything in between is up-to-date and aligned. When nothing is pressing it is easy to put off alignment reviews to a later date or when crises occur. You’ve waited too long for a review if customer complaints conflict between individuals/departments and office stress increases or new technology reduces efficiency while productivity slides.
Vision, mission and goal statements are aspirational; what an organization wants to be or do. Policies and procedures are operational; they provide the behavioral roadmap for how to reach those aspirations.
According to a July 9, 2016 article posted by Sarah Neideck in HR Daily Community, policies and procedures go hand-in-hand but are not interchangeable. A policy is a set of general guidelines that outline implementation parameters, it communicates the connection between the organization’s vision and values and its day-to-day operations. While a procedure explains specific action steps for carrying out policies; it tells an employee how to deal with a situation and when.
After initially reading the procedure definition, I almost hyperventilated. It seemed like a recipe for micromanagement. It isn’t. Procedures clarify behavioral expectations. From leader to frontline worker, everyone has the latitude to manage and think for themselves while reducing the potential for misunderstandings.
In addition to operational and behavioral reasons, policies and procedures can help avoid trouble. For example, they clarify expectations, keep management accountable, ensure compliance with the law, instill consistency, promote win-win dispute resolutions and enhance productivity. I have learned that everyone is more likely to support policies and procedures when they help to create them in accordance with the vision and mission. Change your thoughts, change your destiny!