Monday, February 21, 2011

Policies and procedures

I have just started a piece of work for an organisation overhauling their policies and procedures. They haven't got a lot to start with - much too busy doing what they were set up to do. But it is good practice to ensure that any organisation has some basic policies covering (1) health and safety; (2) equal opportunities; (3) confidentiality including data protection; (4) risk assessment; and (5) some financial policies in particular a reserves policy which the Charity Commission requires. I have come up with 70 policies so far that may need writing.

Is this too many? It depends on the size of the organisation, whether staff are employed, whether any property is owned, whether the organisation has members and the range of activities carried out by the organisation. Perhaps more saliently, should any organisation adopt 70 policies all in one go? I suspect that this would not be a good idea because board members and staff really need to understand exactly what each policy means and what if any impact it will have on how they behave and operate.

However if you have a bit of money and want someone in to write your policies you may well be in a position of adopting many policies in a short period of time. In that event every policy should be closely monitored over, say, the first year to ensure that it truly reflects how the organisation works and whether each policy is useful. Although some policies are legally required, it is probably more important to ensure that any policy is actually useful to an organisation. A risk assessment may be one way of finding out which policies are the priorities in the first instance.

Whilst talk of polices may well send the majority of us to sleep there are a few of us who love to see a full staff/volunteer handbook. This should demonstrate that an organisation's board and/or staff have discussed all the areas that their policies cover and decided that this is the way that the organisation will operate.

Such mindful organisations are a joy to work with and provide me with a good deal of confidence that everyone is indeed singing from the same hymn sheet. I would imagine that many of our congregations would be hard pressed to find more than one or two policies - we are all too busy doing what we are set up to do - but perhaps somewhere hiding in the pews is someone who would like to write a policy or two. You can but ask.

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