Do Your Policies Have The Intended Impact?
Today my sister is taking my elderly mother for a medical procedure that requires anesthesia. Because of Covid-19 the facility has rules against any and all visitors. While that rule is understandable, an exception is appropriate in this case.
My mother can walk very short distances with a walker, is hard of hearing, and like any patient under the effects of anesthesia, is not likely to remember clearly what is said. Navigating alone all of what the visit entails will be very difficult for her. Poor quality exchange of information could have heartbreaking consequences.
Policies around COVID are created with the best interest of people in mind; government compliance and legal concerns are also woven in. But blanket policies are often ineffective, or simply ridiculous.
Manufacturers have numerous policies in place. Attendance, customer returns, payment terms, and more. The vast majority are because of a lack of trust in employees to make good decisions.
As a customer, have you ever heard the words “that’s our policy” and felt comfortable that your best interest was given the respect it deserves?
“That’s our policy” means you are a number, not a person. It means that regardless of the reasonableness or importance of your request, tough luck. Obviously, someone in the organization, if you go high enough, has the discretion to overrule the policy for a logical exception but only they are believed to have the brains and judgement to do so. Otherwise, discretion would be afforded the first person you talked with.
Have you recently evaluated any or all of the policies in place at your organization?
How would you know if they are having the intended effect without significant unintended negative consequences? In fact, is there clarity today on the intended effect of each policy you previously announced?
New and evolving policies, like the one my mother and sister are facing today, will uncover weaknesses and logical exceptions. But who has the authority and the responsibility to ensure those policies reflect reality and actual intention? If a policy is seen as black and white rather than as a guideline to assist decision-making, does it really accomplish what you were intending? Where is the accountability for “that’s our policy” in your organization?
I encourage you to replace policies with trust wherever you can and increase trust elsewhere. If you believe that a policy is actually required to create the results you seek, ensure those applying it understand the intended purpose. Then maybe you can help them make better decisions about when to apply it and when to make an exception.
There’s more to effective policies than simply announcing them. Clear intention, reasonable application, and then regularly review results both intended and unintended, and update as appropriate. You know: Finish Strong®.