Monday, September 15, 2003

Control by Policy 

From an item about work-life balance:

"Yet above all, the role of managers is pivotal. In at least one example, work-life balance is made possible for employees in the complete absence of organisational policies to this effect. This is achieved simply by managers demonstrating appropriate behaviours and expectations in a culture characterised by mutual trust and respect."

Environmental policy
Community involvement policy
Equal Opportunities policy
Diversity policy
Work-life balance policy
…the list goes on…

Why do we need to have policies to tell us to behave in ways that are, or ought to be, self-evidently desirable? The very existence of these policies is an indicator that an organisation would not otherwise perform in the manner desired. Is it any wonder that managers in organisations end up paying lip-service to such policies?

Managing the symptoms of organisational malaise saps energy and merely reinforces the existence of that malaise. Policies for this, strategies for that, procedures for the other; all become necessary only in an environment where such behaviours would not otherwise be evident. Yet build a clear shared vision of how we want the organisation to be and the need for such policies would evaporate. As has been demonstrated in the research quoted.

Perhaps in the instance quoted, the organisational policy, explicit or otherwise, was at a deeper level - to build an environment of trust and respect - and from this all manner of other benefits flowed. Get the basics right and the details fall into place.

Back to current posts