employee discipline

By Roxi Hewertson

You’ve got a problem in your business. Is it time to create a new policy to address the issue? Let’s start with when it’s not a good idea to create a new policy. When a manager or supervisor thinks it’s easier to make a policy than deal with a performance issue with one or a few people, they are going to find themselves in a heck of a mess.  It’s not a good idea to subject everyone to a policy that is generated by the misdeeds or misunderstandings of a few. That’s the job of the manager, and that’s performance management.

Now that we’ve dispensed with that, here are 4 key things to consider in determining whether you need a new policy or not:

1. When safety is a real concern

2. When structure is needed for a chaotic situation – e.g. there is no dress code and the people who meet with customers/public dress in a wide array of outfits that sometimes do and sometimes do not reflect the company’s values or desired image.

3. When consistency is crucial to business strategy, bottom line, and/or fairness – e.g. internal ethics, attendance, paid time off, benefits, parking, travel expense policy, etc.

4. When laws and/or regulations outside the business are driving the rules of behavior or operation.

People often confuse process with policy. They are not the same. Process is “how” something gets done; policy is “what” will or must be done.  For example, you may have a hiring process with steps 1-5 that you mostly adhere to, yet you may choose to flex and change when specific circumstances require it. However, you will likely have a hard and fast policy that says you will not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, age, ethnicity…etc. and that policy does not flex, ever.

Rule of thumb – less is more when it comes to policies. You need enough to create appropriate structure and consistency, help all your people understand the “rules of the game,” and no more. Focus your efforts on having good processes and good leaders conducting good performance management, day to day, and you won’t need a lot of policies.

Leadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi—“the Dear Abby of Leadership”—imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.