You may have read some of my views on procedures from time to time and my cynicism about them. That does not mean I do not believe they are not important – good procedures are essential in a well functioning organization. Even a small company like Enterprise Britain has a host of them, even if they are not yet all documented. After all with a small group they are easily communicated. I have often wondered why I dislike them so much and I have found the key.

The key is values. I have been asked to advise a small company on their practices and ensure they are properly set up to deal with calamities (you may wish to read Kathryn Bullocks blog on this issue) and the future of their market. Their sector is very heavily regulated and an essential part of my mission is to review their policies and procedures to ensure they meet all regulations and cover all areas of our business.

I found an very well run organisation. Management is strong, finances are very sound, controls are in place and the place is ‘humming’. Sure there are issues to address and yes some procedures need updating, but the basics are in place and it works. Everybody understands their roles and the interaction between staff members themselves and between staff and customers is exemplary. So why is this? The answer is simple: values!

The company has its origins in a particular faith. None of the staff and very few of the residents actually are of that faith, but the values that came from the founders have been retained and permeate the whole organisation. Before this appears to be a blog on the importance of faith, let me be clear that is not what I am advocating. It is the value system that has been put on the organisation I support and it just so happens it comes from a particular faith, but it could have come from any direction.

One of the first companies I had the pleasure of ‘turning around’ (it was called turn around management then and now it is called change management) had been set up by an entrepreneur with excellent ideas and drive but he was very self focused. He used and abused the company for his own needs and disregarded the needs of the company and the hundreds of people he employed. It was a toy, not a company. That belief system also permeated throughout and by the time I was appointed I had to take it out of receivership. I spent years changing the culture as I called it, but really I had to change the values.

So back to my current assignment. What do I do with my task of updating policies and procedures? Well it really is very simple. I ensure that the policies and procedures are all based on the fundamental value system of the organisation and are supportive and guiding rather than directing and overruling. The danger I must avoid is writing the procedures in such a way that the team no longer see the values they hold as their guiding light, but start hiding behind the procedures.

With these values the organisation can go much further than it has gone so far and make its excellent product available to a much larger audience. That is a choice they will have to make, but whatever route they take, I am proud to have learned another major lesson in my career as a change manager – or should I still call it value manager? And my cynicism about policies and procedures? Gone! They now have a solid place.

Please leave a comment - we all like them