Over the past 25 years, organisations have rolled out policy after policy in the name of governance and risk management.  They tend to be dry unengaging documents that focus on wrong behaviours and consequences and they are looked on by management as enforcement instruments and by employees as “butt-covering” management protection.

Very often, they are expressed in terms which do not align particularly well with organisational values.

What if we were to take a different approach?

If we start by defining what good looks like (ie what we are trying to achieve in good practice and culture in the subject area) and why we want it, policies take on a positive feel that can be used to motivate people to practise the right behaviours (not just avoid the wrong ones).

For example, flipping your Bullying, Discrimination and Harassment Policy to be a Respectful Workplace Policy that firstly describes what a respectful workplace should look like totally changes the conversation.

Of course, we need to include something about the consequences of not complying with the policy but that is subsidiary to and balanced by the main message about the good stuff. It is the footnote as it should be rather than the headline.