Organisational policies have their own language. Each word carefully chosen and full of meaning. And yet, the meaning is not always apparent as most of the words have multiple meanings. Strangely, many policies do not come with a ‘definitions of terms’ section. The ones that do, seem to define random terms some not even used in the policy.
Therefore, policies often become documents you need to four or five times before you begin to understand them. Weirdly, the people who write them strive for clarity and therefore agonise over word choice. Unfortunately, this often leads to the opposite.
The other thing policies often do is refer to other policies, principles, standards and so on. Unfortunately again, they rarely link to that which they reference. So the reader is off on the hunt again, hoping the one they find is the one the authors intended.
Of course, policies must reference other documents. If they did not, every policy would be hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long. And even fewer (is that possible?) people would read them.
While policies help protect organisations legally, they often exist to articulate the organisation’s view on an issue. Policies exist for implementation. Too often policies are viewed as an end. It’s time to move beyond policy. Perhaps it’s time to view the completion of the policy as the start. Or maybe something we do in the middle. Perhaps we should create implementation and socialisation plans before we write new policies. Some practical guidance for different groups of people in the organisation wouldn’t go amiss either.
It may not be flashy work. It may not get us on the cover of a magazine. But it will have an impact.
The choice is up to us.