Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why Guidelines are Often Essential

In organisations of any size, there is usually an hierarchy of administrative instructions. From the organisation's Mission ie, the statement telling us why an organisation exists, Corporate and Strategic Plans are developed. Each level of planning down the hierarchy becomes more specific. Policy documents are written to provide broad statements in support of strategic goals and outline what an organisation must do to achieve them.

What are Guidelines?

Because policies are general, guidelines are often essential to provide advice on the implementation of a policy. For example, if an organisation has a policy to provide all workers with uniforms and equipment, guidelines would handle the detail regarding:

  1. What is provided
  2. When it is provided
  3. Individual entitlements
  4. Replacement rules
  5. Where and when it must be worn
  6. What happens to the uniforms and equipment on resignation

and so on.

By distributing guidelines regarding uniform issue, use, replacement and return etc, it saves misunderstandings and everyone within the organisation knows what the organisational requirements are. Management of the uniform program becomes more efficient and effective.

Case Study

I worked for an organisation that provided a large sum of money for an educational and training program. However, the director in charge of the work unit didn't issue guidelines or instructions on how, what, when, who, where and why the funding was to be used.

As a result, much of the funding was diverted from education and training by senior managers in other work units. Because no guidelines were issued, it was impossible to point out that the funding was being used improperly.

Guidelines or at least a minute of two or three pages detailing the points raised in paragraph one above, would have prevented the funding being wasted on non-educational and training activities and equipment.


Smart organisations and executive managers make sure that there are sufficient guidelines within their organisation to help staff make good decisions about use of resources and implementing the organisational mission.

The key is to have just as many guidelines as are necessary without going overboard.

Does your organisation have guidelines? Are there too many or just enough?


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