None of your company’s management policies are set in stone, which is obviously a good thing. Every business needs the ability to change and adapt, and the last year has shown this clearly, with 80% of corporate remote work policies having to be changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, this doesn’t mean all management policies have to be changed regularly. Some will last your business for years, while others might quickly become outdated. Keeping your company running efficiently and effectively depends on you understanding when these policies are no longer fit for purpose so you can change them as needed.
This can be easier said than done. However, by relying on data and setting clear goals for your company, you can make sure all your management policies are up-to-date and as effective as possible.
How to tell when a policy is outdated
Ultimately, managers need to be reviewing their policies on a regular basis. Ideally this will be done once a year, as well as whenever an external event or major company change requires it. For example, most companies should have seen their management policies change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that’s because of a changing business landscape or because employees were forced to work from home.
However, these reviews need to be based on solid data. That means deciding on the metrics that are most important for your company and show how effective your policies are. This will differ from business to business, depending on the industry in which you operate and your objectives as an organization.
You could take a broad view and utilize customer performance indicators (CPIs), which are metrics that measure what your customers or clients value. For example, a customer service company might track the percentage of issues that are fixed within one phone call. While these can be affected by external factors, if they move in the wrong direction it can be a sign your management policies need improving.
Alternatively, look at the lagging indicators of your management policies. These are metrics measuring things that have already happened. An example would be company morale, potentially tracked with an employee survey. This would show if morale drops, and while you can’t prevent that from happening, you can use it as an indicator that will show how your policies are performing.
Last but not least, you could use objectives and key results (OKRs). These are excellent for measuring the work of teams and simply involve creating an objective - such as to improve employee retention - and usually two or three key performance indicators that show you’re on the right track. These are extremely useful going forwards, but unfortunately won’t help you measure what’s already happened.
Improving your management policies
In general, the steps you need to take to improve your policies will change depending on the policies themselves. However, there are some general policy management steps that’ll help to make sure everything is effective and new regulations don’t get missed, ignored or misunderstood.
An example of this is a centralized policy management system. The more regulations you add, the harder it’ll be for management and the wider company to understand them and how they interact with each other. It’s therefore important to have an overview of everything, including the policies themselves and your company's process for reviewing and updating them.
Then there’s the question of how exactly you roll these policies out. In order to do this effectively, you’ll need an effective training program. This is doubly true if the new policy changes one or more practical parts of employees’ jobs, as the policy could easily be misinterpreted without clear instructions on how to implement it.
Finally, it’s important to think about the language used when writing the new policies. Is it clear and understandable? Do the terms you use consistently mean the same thing across all your management policies? It’s also good to keep policies concise, as the longer they are, the larger the potential for mistakes and misinterpretations.