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It’s hard to imagine a scenario where growth could be destructive, yet almost as soon as my first London-based company was off the ground, it was destroying me. Aside from figuring out how to navigate workplace boundaries, I couldn’t identify where I needed to correct my course in order to develop a brand that would thrive. When planning my next business, I realized that my shortcomings boiled down to one thing: the absence of a lifesaving policy.
While focusing a doomsday-prepper-level of attention on policy might sound like overkill, it’s essential to hold ourselves to a set of rules and standards that keep us grounded. Why? Because policy means agreement. It means that we all understand what we expect from one another. A dedicated effort to evaluating policy ensures continued success and alignment within your company. Employees don’t have to question which processes to apply across a multitude of different scenarios. There’s no avalanche of questions on how to get the work done.
When I reflected on my experience with my first company, I realized that I went wrong because I never set expectations across my organization. Nothing was in writing and I hadn’t even communicated a formal schedule or hours of operation. Without the structure that comes from putting strong policies in place, our days are spent putting out minor fires rather than working towards core goals.
Creating policy is as simple as defining your process and putting it in writing; clear, company-wide communication is critical for implementing policy. While it’s easy in these scenarios to diagnose the problem with performance metrics, we’re doomed to stumble back into the same situations if we don’t seek out the root causes of our shortcomings.
In my practice as an executive today, I spend 80% of my day evaluating policy for success and room for improvement. The importance of having a cohesive policy is reflected in the amount of time dedicated to reviewing it. If we can include our employees in the development of clear and concrete agreements, we can create a workplace where everyone is able to thrive in their roles. We also can gauge whether these rules and agreements reflect our ethics and priorities – continuing to revise policy language as needed to keep everyone operating from a place of sanity and avoid a chaotic workplace.
Related: Is Your Workplace Disorganized?
Implementing standards is an essential first step in maintaining a sane workplace, but continually updating the policies that support those standards is just as critical. Starting with strong, value-oriented standards for operations provides another outlet for us to gauge the wellness of our organizations. As companies go through changes, the same baseline we used to depend on to understand our performance can slowly become irrelevant.
After developing policies, address any disagreements to lay the groundwork for a strong company. Including the people that our policy directly affects is the best way to get a pulse on its impact on the floor. Leveraging that qualitative data against the quantitative metrics that drive our businesses is the first step, but dedicating time and energy to reworking your processes as needed is also a necessity. Ensure company alignment as policies take place and are updated. Continue testing, revising, and growing throughout the life of your company.
Policies as mission statements
From small businesses to tech giants, I know from experience that scale and budget alone aren’t enough to retain and develop the necessary talent for doing mission-critical work.
Dedicating strategic efforts to creating a sense of agreement allows us to work with calmness. Through the chaos of growing a business, cultivating a space that allows us and our teams to work with calmness means working and growing with confidence.