How to bring the whole team with you when (re)writing policy

Notes from the 7th June Rad HR lunch meet. Thanks to all those who contributed!

  • Is it wise to try and get everyone to feed in to the original policy development, or write a draft and get agreement? (feels like less buy in but maybe more practical In terms of time and whether policy is actually in their job description)

  • How can we create a narrative that policy is really interesting and relevant to their jobs? Getting people interested = making it relevant to their everyday (both in work and outside work, e.g. paid sick leave, or developing a culture of rest, and only working contracted hours).

  • Management by walking about (MBWA) to get buy-in. “A political process rather than a management process”. Actually create policy around what people care about rather than trying to shoehorn their passion into existing policies.

  • “Trust building exercises” where there is group discussion initially and then one person is trusted to go and do the work.

  • Built in review dates for policies so people can give feedback/make edits.

    • Key is to use as little emotional energy as possible to take a good enough for now/safe enough to try to make a decision by consent. And then people won’t be scared to revisit it for amendment.
    • Communication is key: build in opportunities to communicate (e.g. mentimeter). “If our policies were more in line with our culture and values, what would they look like?”
  • Have we missed anything? What would we add in if we revisited this policy in 6 months?
  • Sociocracy practice
  • We’re exploring the idea that having watertight policies can create a safer workplace - i.e. in a trauma informed way that shows people what to expect and how things are dealt with
  • Policies as the boundaries we can draw in order to co-exist within the multiplicities
  • “Policies exist to make things boring when things are difficult” - to protect the people, rather than the organisation.
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Thanks for writing this up, @jessica!

In terms of the ‘who to involve in the process, when’ questions, an approach that we have been using within RadHR, has been for someone to take responsibility for reading up on a policy, thinking about the kinds of questions/issues it’s likely to raise, and sharing a list of questions with the wider team, as a first point.

Depending on the policy, we’ve sometimes done this as a doc that everyone feeds into, or a meeting where everyone is able to feedback on the questions - or sometimes both.

From there, the person who started the research tends to work on a first draft write-up, share it back with the group (as a doc, and then as a meeting discussion), to to be signed off, or for final edits to be made.

It’s felt like a good combination of involvement at all the key stages (framing, agreeing detail, finalising), without reverting to ‘all huddling round a laptop to agree every word.’ :wink:

Also - very supportive of the regular reviews piece! So important and easy to overlook!

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Very interesting - lots of appreciation for everyone who contributed to this. A few thoughts from me:

  • I completely agree that policies create a safer workplace. There’s huge value in taking care to design something clear and equitable before individual needs and inconsistencies arise, creating space where our assumptions about how things should work can be challenged and then ensuring all have access to the same information, rights and responsibilities.
  • I’m a bit wary of the word “watertight” though. We can use up a lot of energy exploring lots of hypothetical situations and trying to predict what will be needed. I’ve found it helpful to start the policy development process by focusing on underpinning intentions/principles and consulting/seeking consent for these from the team. These intentions can then guide the drafting process and will also be really useful later if we have to decide something we didn’t think to cover in the policy.
  • Also helpful to be explicit about how people can raise new needs not envisaged by the policy as currently drafted. Links to sociocracy practice of navigating by responding to tensions rather than feeling that anything can or should be fixed and perfect.
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