From time to time, every company needs to implement a new policy to improve efficiency or safety. But putting a new policy into practice isn’t always easy. Staff must work to overcome ingrained habits, and a new policy may have unanticipated effects on the workings of existing policies.
Luckily, there are several ways to reduce stress and improve effectiveness when implementing a new company policy. Here’s how:
Create buy-in with effective communication.
Most policy changes are worked out at the management level. Managers identify the need for a new policy, decide how to articulate that policy, and then communicate the results to staff. Meanwhile, staff may be unaware that any change is in the works – and thus resistant to the top-down demand for a change that, from their perspective, makes no sense.
Reduce stress and improve the transition to a new policy by communicating with staff from the start. Talk about the nature of the problem and the need for a new policy that will solve it, and field suggestions from staff. Their perspective may help produce a more effective policy, and their inclusion in the communication process will help them understand why a new rule is needed.
Talk benefits and costs.
One way to generate buy-in for a new company policy is to discuss how it will benefit both individual staff members and the company as a whole. Discuss how a new policy strengthens the organization and improves productivity for the people who run it. But be honest in acknowledging potential costs as well: when a new policy is difficult to implement or tough for staff to integrate, keep the lines of communication open so that staff can raise and management can address problems quickly. Be ready for a “learning curve” – even the simplest policies don’t take root overnight.
Set clear goals.
Once a new policy has been articulated, include clear goals or markers that will allow management to measure progress in implementing the policy. Communicate these goals to staff as well. By creating clear, communicated goals, managers give themselves a way to measure whether the policy is working as intended, as well as a framework for keeping staff members involved in the process.
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