Policies & Procedures: What’s the big deal?

The purpose of policies and procedures is to guide the organization’s actions and provide parameters for employees to follow.  They communicate the company’s standards and required processes, and ensure smooth and seamless operations and transitions….. when they’re followed.  We have recently completed a large number of re-accreditation projects and we’ve noticed quite a few clients suffering from a common set of maladies that we’ll explore during this three-part series.

“Dusty” policy manuals.  Many clients fall into two categories: those with very in-depth, customized procedures and those who purchased generic fill-in-the-blank materials. Either way, if the manual is “dusty,” it’s useless.  This signifies an organization that does not follow its own written processes and whose operations are, in all likelihood, quite chaotic.  Significant deficiencies abound in these organizations because – if the process is very cumbersome – people can’t understand it, commit it to memory, follow it and audit for it, all of which are requirements for a well-run, survey-bullet-proof organization.

On the other hand, if the materials are too generic and fulfill only the surface of a requirement or accreditation standard, they are of little real and practical value.  Moreover, these similarly chaotic organizations are often micro-managed because the owner or key manager is usually the only one who knows and understands the big operational picture. Consequently, bottlenecks can occur if this person is the only one who can perform a task correctly or train and monitor others’ performance.

These bare-bones materials also lack what we call the “how” that fulfills a standard or guideline. Oftentimes, the policy consists of nothing more than parroting back a guideline without providing the steps necessary to address the spirit of the regulation.  Forms are useful for that and many manuals we review lack sufficient forms to help the client comply with a rule.

Finally, experience has shown us that while some “off the shelf” materials are understandably not customized to the client’s unique operations, they often don’t even meet state-specific requirements.  As you probably know, Florida’s regulatory environment is as sweltering as our climate, and missing key regulations because your policies don’t speak to them can be devastating and costly.

In the next post, we’ll tackle clients whose creativity extends to their policies.

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