Among the many responsibilities of operating a shop is making sure the business, its staff, customers and suppliers follow all applicable laws and regulations. This is accomplished by keeping up-to-date with regulations, and then developing the appropriate systems and/or procedures to comply with those rules.
An effective way to do this is by crafting written policies and standards. Carefully drafted and standardized policies and procedures can save an organization countless hours of management time. Research and experience has shown that effective and enforceable written policies promote consistency, continuity and understanding within an organization.
There is also a legal aspect of policies in that it helps manage risk and protects the legal interests of a company, especially when it comes to worker safety. Take, liability, for example. The basic premise behind liability lawsuits is that the shop manager and/or the employer ought to have known better and should have taken greater care to protect the employee and prevent injury.
As businesses increasingly are facing litigation related to negligence, it is now more important than ever for shop and fleet managers to ensure they know what the issues are and take steps to protect themselves and their employers. How the shop operates and the policies in place are some of the things that will determine the level of risk. Policies are vital to have in place in an organization so all employees know what is expected of them and what they can and can’t do.
According to authorities on business management, many managers, as well as employees, think of organization policies in a negative light. They are viewed as a means to control behavior. Granted, there are policies that seem restrictive and they may be needed to be to promote good internal control.
However, fair and enforceable policies can help empower employees by providing them with a degree of freedom within defined boundaries. With good policies in place, employees are able to execute their duties and are free to act within the limits set by policy, without constant managerial oversight. In that way, policies empower employees to do the right thing.
A company’s greatest asset is its employees. Empowered employees are usually happier and more productive as they are able to use their own innovation to streamline inefficient processes and correct problems and issues. This helps save time and money and increases shop efficiency and productivity. Beyond that, a work environment consisting of empowerment helps keep top employees and will attract new, high quality ones.
Policy writing is no easy task. To develop good policies that enhance the chances of achieving organizational objectives, it is important to understand exactly what a policy is and how it differs from a procedure. A policy, basically, is a predetermined course of action established as a guide toward accepted the objectives and strategies of the organization. A procedure describes exactly how to carry out the policy.
When developing policies, business management authorities advise starting with the organization’s mission statement and coming up with objectives that reflect the critical success factors of the company. At a minimum, a mission statement should succinctly define what an organization is, why it exists and its reason for being.
For some advice and guidance on what makes for an effective policy manual, Fleet Maintenance Magazine turned to the NAFA Fleet Management Association’s Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) Program. The program is the oldest and largest fleet certification in the world and the only program that attests to one’s expertise in the profession.