strategy

How policy can support your strategy

All organisations need a strategy. But they also need a plan to implement that strategy. Policy is one way to turn your strategy into a reality.

By Arabella Close

Strategy takes a vision and turns it into a plan - every organisation needs strategy. The less glamorous side to strategy-setting is developing an implementation plan. Implementation is the grunt work on the ground to translate the strategy into practice. Crucial to this implementation plan are the policies that will carry out the strategy.

Policies are subordinate to the strategy, but they are how an organisation enforces and achieves its strategy. By embedding an organisation’s strategy into its policies, it ensures the strategy remains central to your organisation’s day-to-day decisions and activities.

Without policies, strategy can remain an isolated, abstract concept that doesn’t actively inform any of the decisions and actions that happen everyday across an organisation. Policies are the means to translate values into practice.

The purpose of policy

  • Streamline decision-making, by ensuring it is more efficient and instilling confidence in the decision-making process.
  • Reduce bias in decision-making.
  • Enable staff to take responsibility for initiating and managing actions without constant reference to management.
  • Increase accountability across the organisation.
  • Provide consistent and fair treatment for employees.
  • Keep the company in compliance with government policies and laws.
Policies are the means to translate values into practice. Policies are the means to translate values into practice.

Most workplaces will have a number of policies in place - they may be a general code of conduct, a disciplinary policy or a policy to deal with workplace discrimination, bullying and harassment. These are crucial policies that will apply to all employees, no matter their position or status. These ensure workplaces remain safe, welcoming and productive.

Other types of policies will address more specific functions of an organisation. Human resources should have a recruitment policy, while a marketing department may have a media policy, or a privacy policy.

Tips for writing policy

  • Articulate the purpose and the goal of the policy.
  • Gather as much information as possible - this will always involve talking to the relevant shareholders.
  • Explicitly outline the scope of the policy - who and what it pertains to.
  • Clearly identify the responsible party - this will be the person or department responsible for overseeing the policy. Ensure those affected by the policy know who they answer to.
  • Ensure the policy is both procedural and substantive - it must provide directions to follow, while also embodying an overarching value or set of values.

 

An organisation whose strategy focuses on transparency and honesty with its customers would want a marketing policy which reflects this. Such a policy might include:

  • Guidelines for accurate representation of services/products, including creating realistic expectations.
  • Prohibition of claims that are inaccurate or use misleading or false comparisons with products/services provided by competitors.
  • Rules for handling the data your organisation accumulates in a manner that is a) legal; and b) in line with the organisation’s privacy policy.

A company that wants to ensure its finances are sound and above board - in keeping with its strategy - will want a financial policy which reflects this. It may address:

  • Identifying opportunities for new customers; and how to subsequently manage them.
  • Identifying new suppliers; and how to choose them.
  • Debt collection - including timelines and warnings.
  • Insurance and risk management.
  • Authorisations, specifically whose approval is needed to make certain purchases.
  • Bank accounts – how they are opened, closed and managed.
  • Buying and purchasing stock, equipment and assets.

A strategy which focuses on constant development and growth will need a policy to encourage continuous improvement. It may address:

  • Guidelines on how to measure change and its impact.
  • Communication of the growth and development to all shareholders.
  • Time periods for implementing change.
  • Implementing regular surveys externally and internally and then collating the results.
  • Organising focus groups.
  • Holding a consultation phase and speaking to people in your organisation and key clients.
  • Conducting regular internal audits.
  • Having an external agency conduct a full-service audit for you.

Leadership

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leadership

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leadership

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