03 May Policy Drafting: Rule # 3 – Be Realistic
Ok, so this is the last rule I want to share with you as you write your policies. And out of all the 3 rules, this is the most practical of all. All the rule writing talents in the world are worthless if you are unable to implement what you wrote. It may have been reasonable, it may have been relevant, but it has to be realistic as well for it to help you.
Realistic in terms of policy making means that you will be able to implement this rule in your workplace.
There are several aspects to implementation. The best way I can teach you this is by sharing a checklist that I run thru with clients before they launch their policies. Imagine yourself before a panel of judges. They are asking the following questions. Would you make it to the next round or would they vote you out?
- How easily can you convince your people to follow it?
- Would they do it voluntarily?
- What measures do you need to put in place to make them follow? More rewards? More punishments?
- Can your people understand the policy you wrote?
- Was it clear enough?
- Did you use understandable words?
- Was the language a good fit?
- Are there any unclear areas of your policy?
- Were you able to test the policy on a team member to ensure that they understood it?
- How are you going to get feedback on how understandable it is?
- How can you check if your policy is being followed?
- What behaviors, results or indicators do you look for to see if you succeeded?
- Do you have a system to gather data afterwards?
- Do you have limits in place so you know when you should make adjustments?
- How long do you plan to allow people to adjust to the new system before you start imposing penalties?
- Equipment and Logistics
- Do you have all the equipment to make your policy work?
- Are there any other things to buy or put in place before you can enforce this?
Why is this important?
I’m trying to help you avoid the common pitfalls of policy writing by asking those questions. What’s at stake if you fail to create a realistic policy that’s unimplementable?
You will lose credibility with your team. Your team will doubt that you know what’s truly going on. The sad part is that once you lose credibility, this policy and all other policies that come after it will be harder to implement because you will not only be dealing with the mechanics of implementation but also regaining their trust enough for them to listen.
You will paint yourself into a corner. Once the resources have been deployed, there will be cases where you will have to stand by what you put into place because a lot of investment has already been put behind it. Massive loss of time, resources and effort from both yourself and your team if this happens.
You will have a systemic policy failure. Remember that you don’t operate in a vacuum. If you have a failed policy, this will definitely have ripple effects on other aspects of the business. You are not the only player that’s relevant here. There are other departments relying on you to do your job well. Everyone is counting on you to make this work.
I hope that you’ve come to realize how important this last rule is. No use creating castles in the clouds with policies that have no grounding. Be smart about this.