How to Change Management Policies and Procedures

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Managers must evaluate the effectiveness of policies and procedures.
Managers must evaluate the effectiveness of policies and procedures. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Clearly defined and effective management policies and procedures can provide the structure and clarity needed for smooth operations and harmonious employee interactions. Work environments can become disorganized and employee conflict can arise when management policies and procedures are inadequate, ambiguous or incomplete. Managers have the responsibility in some cases to set policy and in others to enforce corporate policy dictated from upper management. Proper changes can lead to enhanced corporate success.

Revisit and recast the vision for your department or corporate enterprise. Develop a mental picture of the end goal by redefining the "bottom line." Daw Consulting states that "Managers can convey the exact way things should be done with policies and procedures, and they can do it faster than ever with prewritten documents." It is easier to evaluate and adapt policies and procedures when you have clearly delineated end goals. You must start with the end goal and work backward from there to develop new, or to change, current policies and procedures.

Create a culture of communication. In his book, "Five Dysfunctions of a Team," leadership consultant Patrick Lencioni identifies absence of trust as the first level of dysfunction in a team. The input of people on the front lines of production develops the best policies and procedures. Changes will only be effective if embraced by the end users. Your team members must believe that their input is wanted and valued. Clearly state that you cannot adopt every suggestion. However, if team members feel welcome to share constructive input, buy-in is more probable and they will more readily embrace change.

Influence the influential. Leadership guru John Maxwell cites "The Law of E.F. Hutton" as his fifth irrefutable law of leadership. The E.F. Hutton brokerage firm sponsored a series of popular commercials in the 1970s and 1980s which touted the slogan, "When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen." Maxwell writes, "The eyes have it. The next time you're in a meeting, look around you." He says positional leaders are those who have titles but no influence. The real leaders, he writes, are those who "need only their influence to get things done." They are the ones people look at to determine their personal response. Learn to win the respect and support of the influential members of your team and enacting changes to policies and procedures will become smoother and more likely to be embraced.

Conduct thorough research and clearly communicate the reasons for change. In his book, "Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun," Wes Roberts points out that perception is often more important than reality. Ask questions to determine how those within the department or organization perceive the change. Don't be defensive, and listen to learn, not to respond. It's important to know what people are really thinking. Once you've identified a misconception, you can either adapt your manner of communication, recast your argument to head off undue criticism, or conduct further research to counteract negative arguments.

Decide who you will lose. Author Jim Collins notes in his book "Good to Great" that it's most important to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. It's better to determine the direction of policies and procedures once you have the right team around you. Unfortunately, everyone may not embrace the needed change. You have a strategic advantage to determine who is worth keeping and who may need to be dismissed prior to introducing change. Postpone changing policies and procedures if you determine that the key players are not on board. A manager who rams through changes to policy and procedure may find he has won the battle but lost the war if too few people are left standing with him once the smoke has cleared.

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