3 Ways to Communicate Company Policy Effectively
Whether an organization's 'company policy' is very strict or lax, the fact that it exists is mostly inevitable.
What is an organization without policy and procedures? I picture it becoming a free-for-all ball of confusion and frustration.
Even when we want to create a culture of creativity, friendliness, and freedom, we still need guidelines to ensure the proper boundaries and direction of the organization are intact. But how do we effectively draw the line and communicate where the line is?
This is the battle of Human Resources, right? To energetically play the good guy while forcefully playing the bad guy simultaneously (this should be in your job description).
To ease some of this pain, we've outlined 3 simple ways to help you in developing and communicating company policy to all organizations, big and small alike.
One: Communicate that Policies are Being Created or Changed
Here's a proposal you might not hear often --- ask your employees for suggestions on company policy. We, as humans, are more likely to follow rules that we help create. A great way to gather input from employees is by sending out a survey using Surveymonkey.com or a similar tool. The survey should contain guided questions with multiple legitimate choices that the company considers implementing. Example questions should include:
- Vacation Time and Personal Time
- Cell Phone Policy
- Dress Code
- Acceptable Work Hours
- Grounds for Warnings and Termination
- You get the point
Once all employees have completed the survey (and they will), send a summary of the results out to the employees to let them know their voice has been heard. Finally, implement those changes and be sure to remind everyone that their input had a lasting effect on the company's culture.
Two: For Required Policies, explain WHY
I have read and written a lot of policies and procedures throughout my career and there are two things that always seem to be clearly defined:
1. WHAT we are supposed to do
2. HOW we are supposed to do it
But what about WHY? The real substance of anything we do is WHY we do it. Employees are more likely to follow policies and procedures, when they understand WHY they are important. Famous communicators like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright brothers used this exact approach to help those around them understand the importance of their message. They created a belief system and a lasting impression on their surroundings as well as society.
WHY is at the core of what we do as an organization. If you have trouble explaining why a certain policy or procedure is in place, it may not need to be there!
Three: Be a "Real Person" When Enforcing Policy
Rules are meant to be broken when they're not enforced. Not enforcing company policy is actually worse than having no policy at all. When big changes are implemented throughout an organization and they aren't sustained, employees begin to lose trust in anything and everything that management puts forward. Employees will start to think "this, too, will pass" every time a new policy is rolled out. This is why the sustaining and enforcement phase is so critical.
Nobody likes being the bad guy, right? How do we enforce policy while maintaining a friendly relationship with our employees?
Human Resources and company management should remain approachable throughout the process of developing, communicating, and enforcing policy. It is critical to wear your "real person" hat while doing this. What do I mean by that? I mean speaking to employees in everyday terminology and not "policy speak".
Employees do not want to hear, "According to Section 5.4.1, Paragraph 3 of the Employee Handbook..."
You will find better responses from employees when you smile, call them by name, and ask them about their families and personal life as an introduction. This eases the conversation. The employee no longer feels like they are being reprimanded, but that a coworker and friend is suggesting that their behavior can be improved.
New and effective management techniques focus heavily on the relationship and dynamic you keep with your employees. Employees will always be more engaged and responsive when they feel appreciated by those they report to. Don't leave your "real person" hat at home when you go to work!
We hope these methods help you in your everyday role as you continue to develop and communicate company policy!
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Imagine a smile on your face,