Internal Policies and Procedures

Policies provide a framework within which an organisation makes choices about how it operates and so can either help or hinder the implementation of the strategic plan. Organisations may have policies on any number of topics, for example:

  • Employment
  • Finance
  • Premises
  • Confidentiality
  • Diversity
  • Risk management
  • Service delivery
  • Training
  • Volunteer involvement.

Clear policies make planning, prioritising and decision-making far easier for everyone in the organisation.

When considering policy development within your organisation, you must first consider who decides policy. The quick response may be that the governing body is solely responsible for policy. However, this can be very restrictive and may result in decisions that are excluding and out of touch.

Deciding policy is only the beginning...

As a result, organisations generally take a wider view of policy development and use approaches such as:

  • Delegating policy on particular matters to, for example, senior staff
  • Involving staff, volunteers, members and users in forums, subcommittees or working groups
  • Holding policy conferences
  • External consultation.

Deciding policy is only the beginning. Once your overall policies are in place, you must develop procedures that follow on from these. Policies are in the realm of governance and management; procedures are about management and operations. The following example illustrates the difference:

  • In your volunteer policy you may state that volunteers are equal partners with paid staff
  • In terms of your procedures you may ensure that volunteers attend staff meetings, wear name badges like staff, are consulted on decisions that affect the organisation, etc.

Implementation

The next step is implementation of your policies and procedures which becomes part of the day-to-day management of your organisation. The foundation for effective implementation is communication of the policy to those who will be responsible for implementing it or affected by it. This requires careful attention so that differences of interpretation and possible
misunderstandings are avoided. It is good practice to devote a dedicated period of time in the induction of new staff or volunteers to explaining the organisation’s policies and procedures, as opposed to just giving them the policy handbook.

Some organisations require their staff and volunteers to sign a statement confirming that they have read the policies and procedures, that they have had a chance to discuss them with a relevant supervisor and that they understand them. This practice can be very helpful in an organisation as a means of avoiding misunderstandings.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Policies will require monitoring and evaluation. This can be achieved by:

  • Making it clear to all those involved in implementation or affected by the policy that they can give their feedback and how this can be done
  • Inviting feedback from individuals/ groups, particularly those consulted when the policy was being formulated
  • Where appropriate, asking a working group/subcommittee to draw up a report on the effectiveness of the policy
  • Setting clear timelines for monitoring and evaluation.