How to Write a Policy
When first starting a company, especially a smaller one, you might be more interested in figuring out your business process and getting things done than in defining the procedures that define how your business functions every day. However, especially when your business starts to grow and you have more people working for you, it’s important to make sure that you have written policies to avoid, and help fix, problems that might come up from the way you operate.
Often it’s easiest to make sure you have these policies in place from early on, before they’re strictly needed. There are a few guidelines to keep in mind when you start developing and writing your policies. An Udemy course in business writing will help your policies to be clear, professional, and effective.
What Policies Are Needed?
Before you try defining your policies, start with looking at what kind of policies you need and why. Think about what makes sense for your culture and for how you can best interact with, and help, your clients. You may be going through this process because you’ve run into confusion over how your employees should carry out their jobs, or how they should conduct themselves.
In that case, you’ll likely already have a good idea of what you need. If you only know the problem and not the solution, this part will get trickier, but going through the writing process might help you to define procedures that work for you. As this blog describes, you also might want to go over your HR procedures as a way to pin down some of your problems.
The Process of Writing a Policy
First, the written version should be clear and simple. You’ll need a title to identify your policy, and it should be something that tells anyone who reads it what the subject is, even if they’re not already familiar with your policies and your company. It should also be accurate, and not misleading about the actual content. You can learn some plain writing techniques from this Udemy course.
Keep the language direct enough to limit questions about your policy as much as possible—think about as many different situations as you can where the policy might apply, and try to anticipate the questions people might ask, or arguments they might make to get around your policy. Don’t limit yourself to solving problems you’ve already faced. Make sure the wording is simple to understand as well as not being too ambiguous. You also won’t want to be too specific—a good policy can cover a wide variety of situations.
It will be helpful for the future if you also keep your language professional and make the final document look businesslike. Presentation is an important part of making sure everyone takes your policies seriously. Make sure to go over your policies with new employees, and to go over new policies with existing employees, as part of a formal process.
Other Considerations to Make
In the policy drafting process, you’ll need to think about how your policies will be implemented. Somebody will need to be in charge of making sure everybody in your office does what they’re supposed to, like with taking care of job duties, and should also be available to help answer questions and train your employees on your policies. You’ll need to make sure that there are consequences for not following company policy, and be prepared to follow through on those consequences.
Often, especially in a smaller business, it’s a good idea to get some input on what your employees and everyone else in the business think, either as part of the writing process or once you’ve got something finished. Although you may or may not wind up changing to match anybody else’s feedback, it’s important to get an idea of what people think at the very least.
This will help you make sure that people are satisfied with your company policies, and will let you know if policies make sense for the people who will actually be carrying them out. They may be able to help you with better ways to get to your goals and make your business run smoothly.
It’s important to work with the company as a whole in order to get everything to make sense. You’ll also need everyone’s support, including the person in charge of supervising the policy, in order to make sure it gets carried out the way you intended.
Along with employees and their immediate supervisors, it’s a good idea to make sure anyone else in your management structure, like board members, is okay with your policies. Not only will you want to present a united front to others, it’s important for everyone in management to be clear among themselves on what kind of company you want to be and how you want to run it. Formally written policies will help you with the broader, less formalized strategies and goals that you’ll need to move your business forward.
Depending on what kind of policies you’re working on, you might also want to have an outside authority, like a legal or accounting advisor, look things over to make sure that the structure and content of all your policies is proper. There could be implications that you haven’t noticed, or aren’t aware of. Don’t have them do much rewriting themselves—especially not adding any convoluted language—but you’ll need to know how to keep from making any new trouble for yourself. Taking this online course about social media policies will help you get started. An advisor might also be able to provide you with templates you can use as a rough version to tailor for your own needs.
Once you have a good sense of what kinds of policies your business needs to be effective, the key is clear communication about what your needs and expectations are. If you’re just starting out your new business, this Udemy course will help you develop policies and business plans.
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