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To determine whether minimizing the number of policies within an organisation is helpful in the long run, it is important to first understand the function or the purpose that policies serve. Ultimately policies are curated to simplify decision making. They eliminate the need to search for alternatives and provide solutions after in-depth analysis of recurring, similar problems. They promote efficiency by helping management save time. Policies help managers to delegate more important decisions to their staff. It helps management save time to focus on other important organisational issues.
Finally, policies help secure consistency and equity in organizational decisions. But having a policy for each and every single decision can sometimes create rigidity. The number of policies an organisation should have depends on a number of things-
Nature, size and complexity of the business and the operations it performs would definitely determine how many policies should be in place. Every organisation will have certain policies that need to set in place due to industrial or governmental regulations.
These form the minimum standards. A traditional organisation will have a lot more policies in place as compared to an entrepreneurial business. Entrepreneurial employees are encouraged to take ownership of their jobs and be innovative. If an entrepreneurial business puts a lot of policies in place it will just hinder its growth and aggravate their key problem which is finding staff.
Most entrepreneurial business cannot find employees due to a number of reasons, having extensive policies in place may cause the employees to feel stuck (they may have a low drive as they do not feel part of the decision-making process).
With a large set of policies, they may feel like their skills are not enough to be able to direct the organisation. If the organisations are functioning on large basis and are preforming varied tasks, it can prove very difficult to come up with comprehensive policies for the whole organisation. Organisation will come across problems that challenge the set policies put into place. This causes more time and effort to evaluate and revise the set policies. It would be better to have fewer more specific policies in place that are streamlined and independent to certain areas in the company. The bigger the organisation the more diluted and vaguer the policies get as they move down the organisational chain.
In todays dynamic environment policies can create rigidity and hinder innovation. When policies are set, they relate to a specific situation or goal. These goals are related to specific time frames in which they are to be achieved. Any changes in the environment surrounding the goals is not accounted for when planning. Just because a policy worked for a certain situation does not guarantee that it would work effectively in a seemingly similar situation. The present business environment is constantly changing and chaotic. Dealing with chaos and to turn it into opportunities needs flexibility. Organizational policies have a tendency to become obsolete. Policies within an organisation change at a slower pace as compared to the conditions that lead to them. Periodic reviews and audits can be conducted to help identify and eliminate policies that may become archaic. Such audits can be very expensive or time consuming and tend to create more work. It is important for managers to do these checks regularly. The more policies that need to be reviewed the longer and expensive this process gets.
It is common in organisations policies and goals to get ambiguous as they make their way down the organisational chart. Since traditionally policies are made by top management and then exercised and interpreted by supervisors, they may not actually remain authentic to their original motive. The top managements “big picture” may not translate to an operation level. More policies if not exercised properly can lead to bigger confusion. The employees will be confused as to what the organisation wants and where they fit in. The top management may be confused as to why goals are not being met with the set policies and plans.
What is also important to note is that a business nowadays comprises of more diverse workforce and serve diverse clientele. These groups can have differences in their workplace behaviour and how they do their jobs based on their gender, age, ethnicity, culture or customs. What policy one group may find useful may not align with the other. For example, baby boomers appreciate traditional hierarchy in an organisation, generation Y does not and prefers participation. In conclusion policies whether written or implied, are essential components of a company’s planning framework. It is important to have specific, streamlined, timely and accurate policies in place to ensure a successful workplace.
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