Let’s talk about the importance of POLICIES in your business.

There are several things to remember about policies: you need to SAY WHAT YOU DO, and DO WHAT YOU SAY. There is both the written portion of the policy, and the action that reflects that you follow, abide by, and enforce your policies.

Many businesses have POLICIES; fewer businesses actually follow them.

Having clear, well written policies in business, even as small business owners, is ESSENTIAL. It is essential to the smooth operation of your business. But also, the clarity created by business policies protects the client relationship as well.

What makes for an effective policy?

Business policies need to be 1) CLEAR, i.e. easy to understand AND follow, and 2) eliminate ambiguity in decision making (for you, your team, and for your clients). And they should be written from a client-facing standpoint, i.e. to inform your customers or clients how that policy is supportive of them or your relationship.

And when you create policies, keep in mind that you want anybody working inside of your business to be able to understand and follow the policies as well. This is how you help create consistent business practices and client experiences.

Let’s look at a recent example of what can go wrong within an organization and how detrimental it can be to those it serves, when policies are not clear. This particular example is not from business, but it will highlight the point.

My son sustained an eye injury at school a few weeks ago. It was a bad one, and we should have IMMEDIATELY received a call home. Instead, we received a call once he was experiencing vision loss, some 4 hours after the injury. We ended up in the ER for the rest of the day.

When I emailed the school the next day to ask about their policy for student self-reported injuries, especially head & eye injuries, this is what I received in response:

“With most head injuries and eye injuries, parents are notified with a phone call. Head Injury forms go home as needed.”

Can you spot the issues in this policy? Let me give you a hint: “most” / “as needed”.

If you have policies that allow for ambiguous interpretation and inconsistent outcomes, especially outcomes that do not favor protecting your compliance with the law, achieving clarity, and protecting the client relationship, it is a problematic policy.

The sample policies you may need in your business:

  • privacy policy,
  • data retention policy,
  • employee online use or internet policy,
  • password policy,
  • data back-up policy,
  • employee code of conduct policy,
  • BYOD (bring your own device) policy,
  • remote work policy … and more!

If you have these, or any other business policies in place in your business, go read through them with an eye for two things: in all instances, the first question is are they clear? (meaning there is only ONE way to interpret them); and for client-facing policies, are they written to be supportive of the client relationship?

For internal policies, in addition to being clear, are your team members notified of the policies? Do you provide regular updates on or training related to your policies?

Remember, it does very little good in your business to have policies that you don’t follow.

Especially in the circumstances of an audit or legal scenario, having a policy shows you were aware of the issue, but not following it puts you in the precarious position of showing that you just didn’t care enough to do what you said you were going to do.

Please revisit your various business policies and if you need assistance, get in touch.

© 2022 Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®


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