3 Ways to Make Corporate Policies Concise

Well written administrative policies are clear, concise, and respectful.

Many organizations struggle with the “concise” part, adding in superfluous words and statements.

Here are three things that concise corporate policies avoid:
1) Concise policies do not repeat statements of law.
 Often a policy will contain a statement such as
“All information is subject to the Freedom of Information Act.”
If legislation exists in your jurisdiction subjecting you to Freedom of Information requirements, then it does so whether or not you include it in your policies. It’s no truer or stronger when your policy repeats the statement. If you need to remind your employees of the existence of this rule, the proper place to do that is in your guidance documents.

2) Concise policies do not repeat statements of fact
A statement such as
“Remember that Twitter has a 280 character limit.”
tells people about a decision made by another organization (unless you work at Twitter). As with #1, facts are no truer or stronger when your policy repeats them. If you need to refer to a fact to justify or reinforce a policy decision, again the proper place is in the guidance documents.

3) Concise policies do not contain advice.
Your policies are meant to record your decisions, not your advice or suggestions. Take, for example, a statement like the following:
“Employees are asked to change their passwords every 90 days.”
If the action is meant to be mandatory, then—like my parents used to say—it’s not an “ask” but a “tell.” If it’s not mandatory, then it’s guidance and should appear only in the guidance documents. A well-written policy either expressly mandates a practice, permits it, or prohibits it. What it doesn’t do is sit on the fence.

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