Policies are the backbone of your business. They reinforce your business’s values, goals, mission, and vision. Policies provide structure and guidance for all business operations ensuring you and your team act consistently. Generally, companies fall into one of the three types. I’ve outlined them below. A business may be entirely one kind, or they have areas of their organization that fall into one type or another.
The Jellyfish Business
Without policies, businesses can be like jellyfish; they have no structure. Or if they have a system, it is arbitrary and inconsistent. Team members don’t know who is responsible for making which decisions. They receive little or no training, and the feedback they receive is based more on the emotions of management than on employee skill sets. These types of businesses find it challenging to retain talent.
Jellyfish Businesses often treat customers differently. One might get a discount, and another might not – even for the same service. The quality of service is unreliable and unpredictable. Invoicing is haphazard. It’s no wonder clients of Jellyfish companies take their business elsewhere.
The Brick Wall Business
On the flip side, a business can be like a brick wall with a rigid, unyielding structure. Sometimes Brick Wall Businesses have clearly defined policies. But those policies are strict, and punishment for non-adherence is swift and harsh. Executives lead by intimidation, bullying, and micromanagement. Talk about a toxic workplace!
Brick Wall Businesses can’t retain customers either. If the discount ends on Monday, no one – not even their best customer – gets the deal on Tuesday regardless of the circumstances. They provide exactly the same service, in exactly the same way to every customer, even if the customer’s needs differ. Customers move to flexible businesses willing to listen and understand.
The Backbone Business
Flexible businesses are Backbone Businesses. They have logical, organized, clearly defined policies. And, team members can easily access appropriate policies too. Management welcomes and encourages input on policy improvement. Team members receive training and consistent performance evaluations. And the policies empower team members to make appropriate decisions.
In a Backbone Business, communication is relevant and consistent. They adapt to their customers’ needs, so clients get high-quality service every time. When customers are happy, they refer their family and friends, and the business grows.
If everything goes smoothly, your company might roll along quite well without policies. But under stress, jellyfish turn into formless blobs. When brick walls are under stress, they crack and fall to pieces. When policies are the backbone of your business, you become supple and flexible. You may bend or squash under pressure, but you can easily pop back to your original state.
As dull as it may seem, working on your policies and procedures manual is a step towards leadership and business stability. Do you need some help or advice with policies? Feel free to contact me.
Coloroso, Barbara. Kids Are Worth It!: Raising Resilient, Responsible, Compassionate Kids. Penguin, 2010. ISBN: 9780143175438