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It’s hard to imagine a scenario where growth could be destructive, but almost as soon as my first London-based company took off, it wrecked me. Aside from figuring out how to get around the boundaries of the workplace, I couldn’t identify where to correct my course to develop a brand that would thrive. When planning my next business, I realized that my shortcomings boiled down to one thing: the lack of a life-saving policy.
While it may sound like an exaggeration to pay attention to policy, it’s essential to adhere to a set of rules and standards that keep us grounded. Why? Because policy means agreement. It means we all understand what we expect from each other. A dedicated policy review effort ensures continued success and alignment within your business. Employees don’t have to wonder which processes to apply in a wide variety of scenarios. There is no avalanche of questions about how the work should be done.
As I reflected on my experience with my first company, I realized I had made a mistake in never setting expectations across my entire organization. There was nothing in writing and I hadn’t even communicated a formal schedule or opening times. Without the structure that comes from putting in place strong policies, our days are spent putting out small fires rather than working on core goals.
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Creating a policy is as easy as defining your process and put in writing† clear, company-wide communication is critical to policy implementation. While it’s easy to diagnose the problem with performance statistics in these scenarios, we’re doomed to fall back into the same situations if we don’t look for the root causes of our shortcomings.
In my practice as an executive today, I spend 80% of my day evaluating policies for success and room for improvement. The importance of a coherent policy is reflected in the amount of time spent reviewing it. If we can involve our employees in the development of: clear and concrete agreements, we can create a workplace where everyone can thrive in their role. We can also gauge whether these rules and agreements are our ethics and priorities – continuing to revise policy language as necessary to allow everyone to work from common sense and avoid a chaotic workplace.
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Implementing standards is an essential first step to maintaining a healthy workplace, but continuously updating policies that support those standards is just as crucial. Starting with strong, value-oriented standards for operations gives us another outlet to: gauge well-being of our organizations. As companies go through change, the same baseline we used to rely on to understand our performance can slowly become irrelevant.
After developing policies, address any disagreements to lay the foundation for a strong business. Including the people our policy directly affects is the best way to get a sense of its impact on the floor. It’s the first step to leverage that qualitative data against the quantitative metrics that power our businesses, but it’s also a necessity to spend time and energy adjusting your processes as needed. Ensure business alignment as policies take place and are updated. Keep testing, revising, and growing throughout the life of your business.
Policies as mission statements
From small businesses to tech giants, I know from experience that scale and budget alone are not enough to retain and develop the talent needed for mission-critical work.
By making strategic efforts to create a sense of agreement, we can work calmly. Through the chaos of growing a business means cultivating a space that allows us and our teams to work, work and grow with confidence.
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