Management Committees need to develop organisational policies in order to implement the strategic aims and priorities of the organisation.
Policies provide guidance so that each time a question arises about how to implement a broad decision, there are some parameters to inform the response. Policy guidelines articulate how an organisation's overall mission and aspirations are to be pursued.
Management committee's role in policy development
Depending on the size of the organisation and the role played by the Management Committee, committee members may not be involved in all stages of policy development. However, Management Committees should be confident that their established processes result in policies and procedures that:
- are in line with the organisation's vision, mission and values;
- meet their legal responsibilities; and
- are effectively implemented.
This may be through delegation of responsibility for policy drafting to appropriately skilled and experienced individuals, and systems for reporting, approval and review by the Management Committee.
We usually think of organisations in terms of people who comprise them, but staff and volunteers come and go, while the organisation goes on. Policies and procedures describe its 'ways of doing things', evolve slowly and are largely adopted by newcomers.
What are policies and procedures?
Policies are the organisation's stated position on a particular internal or external issue. They provide the written basis for an organisation's operations and are secondary only to legislation and the organisation's governing document. Procedures are the mechanisms for implementing policies. They outline the 'how to' instructions for implementing an area of policy.
Organisations' skills and knowledge about doing their work are encoded in their policies, structures and procedures.
Policy frameworks are influenced by the strategic direction of the organisation and also by:
- External factors such as the law; and
- Internal factors such as the views of stakeholders such as the governing body, service users, management systems and the historic values of the organisation.
Thus they are means by which strategy is converted into front-line action.
The Management Committee should ensure that the policies of the organisation are a blend of and articulate:
- the management system which is focused on the most effective ways of delivering the service;
- the accountability system which is driven by the requirements of the committee; and
- the values system which is driven by the unique mix of different value, principles and commitment which shape an organisation.
Polices and procedures can help to protect the organisation, its staff, volunteers and beneficiaries by highlighting issues or principles and outlining the organisation's exact response. Policies should be relevant and kept up-to-date. They benefit the organisation by providing:
- an ethical framework for all those involved in the organisation;
- a boundary for day-to-day operation (inside the boundary things are acceptable, outside the boundary they are not);
- continuity over time and accross the organisation; and
- a mechanism for ensuring that practice is consistent and equitable.
Procedures and systems
Procedures and systems are essential to an organisation's ability to achieve their objectives. They:
- increase consistency, reliability and fairness;
- save on time and effort;
- ensure an effective method is used by capturing whatever has evolved as best pratice; and
- enable less experienced, less skilled or temporary staff or volunteers to learn quickly and contribute more.