Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Policies and procedures – Do we really have to put this in writing?

May 12, 2020
By: Lisa L. Corbeille

Have you ever played the game telephone?

One person tells another person a story until we get to laugh at what concocted story the last person in the chain puts together to tell the group.  Besides being funny, there is a good life lesson in this game – everyone hears and then translates words differently.

 So the version I hear of the story may very well be different than your version of the same story.  One way to avoid miscommunication (whether because the person interprets something differently or doesn’t hear it accurately) is to write it down.  We are less likely to misinterpret something in writing than something shared verbally.

Since written policies and procedures are as old as HR departments, why am I bringing this up now? Because we have seen a lot of interest in developing policies and procedures brought about by the COVID-19 crisis.  And since employers are looking at those policies and procedures, best practices would recommend giving a quick look at all your other policies and procedures.  Several policies come to mind that have been of significant relevance in recent years.  These include:

  • Workplace safety
  • Wellness assessment
  • Sick leave
  • Telecommuting
  • Flexible work schedules
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Social media
  • Electronic media
  • Parental leave

Another best practice because there is legislation being enacted in the employment arena at a steady pace, is an annual review of your policies and procedures. Policies and procedures that are well written can prevent confusion and establish expectations.  Save the “telephone” game for children parties and strive for effective communication in the workplace.


Lisa L. Corbeille, MBA, SPHR, CCP
Manager, Organizational Performance
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