A few years back, when we opened up our newest medical practice,  I had the wonderful opportunity to revisit our office policy manual. It is a fact that usually the office policy manual is only opened when a problem arises and then we hope that there is a solution to it.

When I work with offices and have the chance to look at the policy manual I usually find that not only would it take weeks to read but that it is very outdated.

I have always thought that a business can run successfully having just a few good company policies in place that are adhered to. For certain, this does help as most people look at the office policy manual when they are hired and that is it.

How do you create operational policies that everyone will be willing to follow?

For people to want to follow policies they must be simple, understandable, and reasonable.  Employees must also be able to see the points below in each policy that they are expected to abide by.

  1. Fair – If employees can understand the policy they are expected to uphold has a purpose, they can see why it makes sense, and feel that it is fair; they will have fewer problems following it.
  2. Relevant – The policy has to be relevant to all those who have to uphold it. This is why all policies need to be carefully thought through.
  3. Consistent – Being flexible has its place but not when it comes to your office policies. Make sure they are clear and the consequences for breaking them are just as clear.
  4. Enforced – If employees feel that there is no real consequence or possibly there is a consequence, then they will not respect the policies.  Your rules are only as good as your ability to enforce them.

I read once that effective managers keep their rules “light and tight.”  They delete any unnecessary items, leaving only those policies, which have a solid rationale.  This makes the few rules they have easier to remember, justify and enforce.  This seems like a pretty good management rule to follow.  If your policy manual seems a bit overweight maybe you might want to take out your clippers and trim it down some.

Keep moving forward, Tina

Practical Practice Management