5 Reasons No One Follows Your Policies and Procedures

human resources strategic management May 26, 2021
Capacity Experts: 5 Reasons No One Follows Your Policies and Procedures

When policies and procedures are not adequately structured and implemented, they can cause more harm than good. Nonprofits with strong systems, though, are more likely to run ethical organizations that are high performing. Thus, it is essential to develop robust controls, policies, and procedures.

Therefore, in order to make sure your organization’s systems support the mission of the organization and create positive work environments, you should avoid the following 5 mistakes when developing your policies and procedures. 

1. The organization is not implementing policies and procedures that solve, correct, or prevent a specific problem. 

Organizations should not just have policies and procedures for the sake of having them. They should serve a defined purpose and should be continuously evaluated to assess their relevance and applicability. When policies and procedures are not driven by statutory requirements or functionality, employees begin to see them as obstacles to doing their jobs by unnecessarily adding to their workload. This makes compliance more challenging and creates an overwhelming environment for employees. 

2. The organizational policies are unnecessarily cumbersome or confusing. 

Policies and procedures should be simplified to minimize employee overwhelm and in order to facilitate compliance. If a policy or procedure is too complex, too labor-intensive, or involves too many people, the likelihood that it will be implemented is greatly reduced. Policies that are confusing or contradictory also increase the risk for the organization. Thus, the team should collectively identify implementation obstacles and then make simplification recommendations. 

3. The implementation of the policies and procedures varies from person to person. 

Policies and procedures should be implemented in a uniform manner. Everyone should understand the standard operating procedures of the organization and apply them accordingly. Employees should be adequately trained and should know the following:

  • What to do in the event they witness a deviation from those policies;
  • Employee responsibilities and rights;
  • The standards that they have to comply with in order to perform their job effectively;
  • Standard security and safety protocols; and
  • The documentation policy of the organization.

A clear management and communication infrastructure is also essential to creating these robust systems that support employees in meeting their compliance requirements.

4. Staff members do not understand the relevance of the policies and procedures they have to follow.

It is important to communicate the value of following standard operating policies and procedures to staff members. When staff members do not understand the purpose of the organization’s policies or how they protect the organization, its clients, and employees, they begin to become overwhelmed with a feeling of high managerialism. This leads employees to feel like the organization cares more about compliance than the mission. When this occurs, the staff members begin to view management as unethical and uncaring. This can, in turn, increase turnover and affect performance. In the most extreme of cases, employees can begin to organize a mutiny, which can be a destabilizing event for any nonprofit.

5. Policies and procedures are not standardized or automated.

Documentation practices should be simplified as much as possible and minimize the re-entry or duplication of the same information through automation and customized software. This step will eliminate or minimize the feeling of overwhelm and the likelihood of mistakes or serious omissions. There are, however, times where funders or regulators require the utilization of specific documentation or data collection software with limited options for customization. Under these circumstances, the organization must adequately train staff and adjust employee workloads.


Keeping these 5 obstacles in mind while managing and implementing policies and procedures will result in the creation of an organizational infrastructure that helps carry out the mission in a sustainable manner and increase employee confidence in the organization. 

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Please share with us below what strategies you have used to create to make the implementation of policies and procedures in your organization easier. 

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