The best way to implement policies and procedures is to ensure they are well-written, useful, and simplify things for the reader. Use this checklist to ensure that your SOPs get implemented correctly.
Sell the Sizzle
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. All they see is another email telling them they have to do something. Or worse. Do something different. This makes people resist even BEFORE they’ve opened the email. So, step back and see how you can make the reader WANT to read your policy or procedure. How? Highlight the benefit.
Ask for Feedback
Don’t just ask it, mean it. Ask the frontline staff who will use the document, does it work for them. In large organizations, these folks are often the last to see the new policy or procedure. Yet, they are expected to use it. Something doesn’t add up here. Ask them what they think, take their comments onboard and make the changes.
Then send a nice email thanking them for making the effort to get back to you.
If you can… walk over and thank them in person.
Once you get folks onside, it’s much easier to implement, change and enforce a policy. Their on your side. They want to help. But you’ve got to keep them in the loop.
Have you ever avoided doing something not because you didn’t want to do it but because you didn’t know how to? We’re all like that. Sometimes people want to help but don’t know how. You need to give them direction. There are different ways to do this.
- Hold workshops for their team leads and show them how the new procedure works
- Arrange 1-1 sessions with the frontline staff so they all feel comfortable with the documents.
- Highlight any special responsibilities that they need to be aware of. Be kind. Don’t strike fear into their soul. Help them to do their job that little bit better.
- Email people after a week or two and see if they’ve seen anything that you need to change in the procedures. Again, it’s not that they are lazy but most staff don’t feel it’s their place to approach you. So, you need to make the first move.
Schedule assessments every quarter. Check that the team are following the procedures correctly. If not, don’t reprimand them instead look for ways to make the process easier to understand. Again, people want to do things write but sometimes they need direction.
We created a set of Procedure documents. These were converted into PDF and uploaded to the intranet.
So far, so good.
But the PDFs had fields and text boxes. The staff were meant to fill in the fields when performing different tasks. The problem was that they couldn’t see the Save button.
There was a shortcut key but most didn’t use it as they often got it mixed up and did more harm than good.
We changed the design on the forms in the PDF and suddenly everyone was using the procedures correctly.
The message here is that while the Policy/Procedure document may be fine, the tasks associated with using it may confuse the staff.
Keep your eyes peeled and see where staff are getting tripped up when following instructions.
Those are some ways I implement Policies and Procedures.
One last thing.
I try not to say that I ‘enforce’ policies.
The word enforce sounds like I’m policing people. That’s not my job. I don’t have a badge!
How about you?
What do you do to implement procedures and other business documents? What mistakes do others make when doing this?