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20 Questions to Ask When Prioritizing Your Policy Development Efforts

Published on February 23, 2022

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It is a well-known fact that no business can operate properly without a set of distinct policies in place. To use an analogy, if your company is a great machine and your employees are the little cogs making it work, the collection of procedures you implement can be likened to an operating system. Without it, the individual components, such as your departments or teams, may somewhat function, but never with the highest efficiency or coordination required to compete in the modern market environments. In simple terms, you need policies to make your enterprise function as a whole.

The issue is implementing such policies is a risky endeavour. If badly written, they can have a negative effect on the continued efficiency of your business and even turn your working environment into a harmful one. As such, you need substantial amounts of thought and proper research before you even start developing any company policies. To aid you in that regard, below, you'll find a list of twenty questions that any policymaker should ask beforehand when focusing on the company's procedure development efforts.

1. Is There a Need for a New Policy?

To put it simply, creating procedures is a time-consuming and resource-intensive task - both of these elements might find better use elsewhere. As such, think carefully about an answer to this question before you reassign vital personnel to work on it.

2. Wouldn't It Be More Efficient to Review, Redesign, and Reimplement Existing Policies?

Creating a new policy on top of the old ones is going to create initial chaos as your structures adapt to it. In some cases, reviewing and updating the old ones might be preferable to avoid the bureaucratic bloat - an issue greatly impactful on your continued prosperity.

3. Is Your Planned Policy Legal Under the Existing Law?

This is an essential question to consider for policymakers. Laws differ not only by countries but also administrative regions, and what is perfectly fine from a legal standpoint in one branch may be unacceptable in another, in a different location.

4. Is It Based on a Recommendation by the Government or Created in Response to the Currently Important Events?

The distinction here is crucial. Government-issued requirements may be non-negotiable, and thus a creation of a policy reflecting them might be necessary. On the other hand, developing a policy as an answer to some impactful event can be avoided if not conducive to the well-being of your workforce or harmful to the long-term profitability of your business.

5. Who Will Be the Main Target of Your New Policy?

Answering that question is required to properly design and implement certain procedures. To illustrate the point, one targeting your management staff is going to differ drastically from policies created to regulate the freelancers in your employ.

6. Are Those Soon-to-Be-Affected by the Future Policy Informed of Its Creation Process?

Creating a policy behind the backs of those it will affect can lead to trust issues within your company, affecting both employee satisfaction as well as their professional loyalty.

7. If So, Can They Be Included in the Policy Development?

Involving those concerned in the design process could prove beneficial to your efforts by virtue of making their fears and doubts known before the entire development finalises. That can help you eliminate obvious errors and loops you might have missed otherwise - ones that might have a negative impact on your efficiency later on.

8. What Is the Workforce Sentiment Towards Your New Policy's Aim?

If your aim proves unpopular among the staff concerned, consider reevaluating your goals with this particular policy. For example, there is no need to implement a strict dress code for those members of the company that don't work directly with your clientele.

9. Can Your Planned Policy Have a Detrimental Effect on Efficiency?

No policy is worth it if it harms the potential profits or hampers exploiting future opportunities by decreasing the performance of those under it. If there's a risk of it doing so, make redesigning your drafted procedure an utmost priority.

10. Does It Negatively Impact the Well-Being of Those Concerned?

To provide an example, an unintentionally lax policy may result in your workforce coming to physical harm because of the lack of regulations. On the other hand, a needlessly restrictive one may prove damaging to their mental wellness, e.g., trying to overly control and regulate facial hair or non-standard hue of clothing is not conducive to your staff's mental health.

11. How Do You Estimate the Impact on Your Company Culture?

The company culture is something most enterprises develop through years of hard work and self-improvement. If your new policy may prove harmful here, consider redesigning it to fit it properly.

12. Does the Planned Policy Reflect Your Values and Mission as a Company?

If your new procedure is inimical to the principles your business represents, consider changing it to avoid the resultant chaos and confusion it may generate.

13. How Will It Affect Your Brand Image?

Due to the proliferation of mass and social media, it can only take one disgruntled individual to generate a PR crisis that might snowball and, as a result, take a lot of effort to recover from. As such, consider the implications your new policy may have for your brand image and if it might be capable of generating such unwanted attention.

14. Will It Be Easy to Understand by Those Concerned?

Your workforce needs to be able to easily and quickly adapt to any changes introduced by your policy in order to maintain their productivity. If your procedure is confounding to those it concerns, it will lead to operating errors and needless disciplinary actions, decreasing both your profits and your employee motivation.

15. If So, Can Any of It Be Considered Too Ambiguous?

Even if it is easy to comprehend, consider if any of it might be unintentionally vague. Change these aspects to be more comprehensive and defined to avoid the potential time and resource loss associated with adhering to them wrongly.

16. Is It Vulnerable to Possible Lawsuits?

As a company, you don't want the lawsuits, both due to the costs involved and the unnecessary negative impact they may have on your brand image. As such, always proof your future policy against the most conceivable types of legal action without sacrificing its legibility.

17. Does Your Drafted Policy Need a Limited Test Run?

To paraphrase a popular saying, no plan survives the first contact with reality. As such, consider partially implementing your policy in a controllable environment such as a single volunteering department in order to iron out any potential errors and misjudgments before you go live with it in the entirety of your enterprise.

18. Is Your Policy Designed to Be Easily Modifiable?

As mentioned above, creating new policies every time you need to adapt to something can create bureaucratic bloat and, as such, considerably slow your growth. Avoid this by making your policy easy to update when required.

19. Who Will Be Responsible for Implementing the Newly Created Policy?

You need to decide who will be in charge of making sure your new policy is introduced properly. As such, consider briefing the chosen people beforehand and even discussing the various inquiries with them personally to avoid any miscommunication or errors born from doubts.

20. Are You Open to Feedback and Potential Redesign Should Issues Arise?

It very well may turn out that even after all of the above steps, your policy is still lacking the qualities necessary to make it work properly. As such, review your employees regularly concerning their reception of the procedure and implement the necessary changes post-haste to avoid the issues from slowing your business long-term.

Every company needs policies to function at its best. However, when it comes to creating them, you need to ensure they are well-designed from the start to avoid any future issues. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. As such, consider all of the above points to create a policy that works for you.

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Written by Richard McGlave

Founder & CEO at Continuity2

With over 30 years of experience as a Business Continuity and Resilience Practitioner, Richard knows the discipline like the back of his hand, and even helped standardise BS25999 and ISO 22301. Richard also specialises in the lean implementation of Business Continuity, IT Service Continuity and Security Management Systems for over 70 organisations worldwide.

Richie c2 profile
Richie c2 profile

Written by Richard McGlave

Founder & CEO at Continuity2

With over 30 years of experience as a Business Continuity and Resilience Practitioner, Richard knows the discipline like the back of his hand, and even helped standardise BS25999 and ISO 22301. Richard also specialises in the lean implementation of Business Continuity, IT Service Continuity and Security Management Systems for over 70 organisations worldwide.