Clear, well-written policies and procedures make sure daily operations reflect your long-term business vision and mission statement. They also create a framework for making consistent and fair decisions, and work to protect the legal interests of your business. The adoption process, which typically consists of reviewing, testing, modifying and ratifying, is critical for making sure policies and procedures enhance rather than hinder the likelihood of meeting these objectives.
Review Policy and Procedures Drafts
The adoption phase, which is the third stage of the policy and procedures life cycle, starts with a thorough review. In many businesses, the management team conducts an initial review before passing proposed resolutions on for modification, testing or approval. Look to see whether a proposed policy links to a strategic objective and whether procedures link to a parent policy. Also, make sure the verbiage is understandable and addresses the intended audience. Send any writing that fails the initial review back to the writer for revision.
Establish Feedback Rules
Create rules, including deadline dates, for providing feedback on modification or complete revision requests. Anything sent back after an initial review should include the appropriate feedback, not a statement such as “no opinion.” For example, require that feedback begin with statements such as “the draft requires minor modifications” or “the draft is unacceptable and needs significant changes to be effective.” Follow these opening statements with specific changes or revision recommendations.
The Testing Phase
Implement the policy and associated procedures using a limited audience and a specific time. Most often, the audience is the department or users most directly affected. The time frame should be long enough to evaluate the effect on daily operations and any possible repercussions. Instruct managers and affected employees to provide feedback about whether the resolution is effective as-is or whether changes might make a resolution more effective, more efficient or more in line with a compliance directive.
Ratify and Implement
Ratification is the final step in approving policies and procedures. For a small business with a flat organizational structure and few decision makers, this can be as simple as the business’s owner signing off and instructing human resources to insert the resolution into the employee manual. For a mid-size or large business, ratification most often involves a final review and discussion, followed by a resolution vote. Once approved, policies and procedures move to the implementation phase.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.