Can anyone guess how I’m going to celebrate this year’s Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week, Nov. 5 – 11? I will be conducting an annual review of all our policies, procedures (“P&P”) and Code of Conduct. To some, this may sound like nails down a chalkboard, but to me, it’s motivating and has a deeply rooted foundational purpose.
I like knowing that what I do for my company has a direct and positive impact, and something most of us seek throughout our careers. To me, policies and procedures (P&P) aren’t boring check-the-box documents. Rather, they have a much bigger influence on the company and its growth than many would think. Whether you have five or 500,000 employees, a strong P&P management program is a must. I’ve met a lot of business owners throughout my career that have a flawed view of the value P&P can bring to an organization.
Often times, as with most aspects of compliance, these rigid and narrow-minded perspectives are due to poor experiences with it. However, compliance is in a time of change and is no longer viewed as the nay-sayer, but one core a function that helps a company’s profitability and success over time while eliminating unnecessary and costly risks. .
Many of these business owners I’ve met with over the years, view P&P being solely for heavily regulated companies and an aspect of a compliance program that is difficult and cumbersome to write and maintain. Some went is far as thinking P&P negatively impacts an employee’s performance. In short, most never take the time to look at the bigger picture.
Some P&P benefits include: Employee empowerment. P&P don’t hinder employees they empower employees. They give them the knowledge they need to do their jobs effectively, efficiently and legally.
Lasting quality. They increase quality and customer satisfaction.
Regardless of what a company makes or the services they offer, the product is only as good as the process. Creating and maintaining easy to understand P&P that truly reflects your organization's practices will reduce risk, increase quality and increase customer satisfaction.
The $64,000 Question is, where to begin? I find it is best to start providing simple explanations in layman's terms of what each policy is and then digging into the details, such as: why the policy matters, how it impacts the business and the individual employee, etc. Giving as much context as possible without over explaining.
Here’s a great example and one that I look back on often as a reminder if from The KCC Consulting Group.
There is a person that needs to drive to a new location, but in order form them to be successful and reach their destination they need policies, processes and procedures.
“Policies are the guidelines or laws that drive process and procedure,” according to The KCC Consulting Group.
To help illustrate, here is a nice screen grab from the DMV Manual in my hometown of North Carolina..
(See the image to the right)
“Processes are a high-level overview. The tasks within the overall process are identified.” he KCC Consulting Group
The process outlines how the driver will get to their assigned destination.
Here is a glance of how you get to Rockhill, SC from Charlotte, NC. If you are anything like me, you may need a bit more detail and guidance.
“Procedures are the detailed steps required to perform an activity within a process.”- The KCC Consulting Group
In this example, the procedures are when you get into the details of exactly how to get from point A to point B.
With the right P&P in place, employees are enabled to reach their goal efficiently and effectively while following the organizational rules.
There are many steps to building an effective policy program, but without a solid understanding of what your goal is and how to get there -- the road will be rocky and may lead to some dead ends and backtracking. This is a core reason why I always advocate for the creation of a Policy on Policies or a Meta-Policy.
A Policy on Policies, while it incites images of an inception, describes not only how policies should be written but how they should also address the process for developing, issuing and maintaining all company policies.
My goal and passion as a Chief Compliance Officer is to help bring ETHIX360’s policies to life. And truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate this year’s Compliance and Ethics Week!
What do you do to make your companies policies engaging and easy to understand? Tell me on LinkedIn.
Stephanie Jenkins is the Chief Compliance Officer for ETHIX360. At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to employee communication and case management on issues related to corporate ethics, code of conduct, fraud, bribery, EH&S and workplace violence. To learn more about ETHIX360, please visit www.ethix360.com, or follow us on twitter @ethix360.