Does my business really need a bunch of boring policies?


BY Mel Hammond


15 December 2017

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Picture it: your business started out as a solo effort, and slowly but surely has organically grown into a small (but awesome!) team. You’ve always shied away from putting boring, serious policies in to place, cos it’s just not how you roll.

But what happens when that business grows to a team of 10, plus a few contractors here and there? What do you do when one of those team members acts up? How do you make sure everyone’s expectations are aligned with yours? You can use well-defined policies and procedures to guide operations without constantly having to get involved. Like a street map for your team to follow, without you having to stand at the front waving an umbrella.

And it’s not just one-sided either.

Our greatest asset is our team. Digital Noir would be nothing without the people that make up the business. We want to have policies in place to ensure that everyone gets treated fairly, by the business, and by their teammates. Everyone needs to be accountable, even the boss. It also serves as a guiding light for new additions to the team, to help them to understand our values, and the emphasis we place on giving a damn!

The DN crew is small and close-knit. It is absolutely necessary for everyone to support each other to achieve both individual and team success. In doing this, we look to everyone to think and act in a way that respects and upholds our values.

To add structure to the things that we were already doing, we recently implemented a ‘Team Handbook’ for everyone here. It includes a bunch of procedural stuff, but also our DN manifesto: how we expect everyone to approach their work, and the people they work with. We don’t like to think of it as a series of regulations that have to be strictly adhered to. What we are saying, though, is: “This is how we want to do business. If you’re not on board with this, maybe DN isn’t the place for you.”

Our handbook gives us a direction. It’s a resource to refer to in times of indecision and can help define our actions in pursuit of both our personal and team goals.

Yep, some of it is boring. Leave procedures. A health and safety policy. Hardly the stuff you wake up having dreamt that you will one day write. Ours isn’t a formal document though. It laughs at itself, and as such is a true reflection of Digital Noir.

Company policies don’t need to be hard or time-consuming to write. There is a stack of generic policies available online, and the specifics of what you need to include will vary according to your industry, company size etc. You might want to include the following as standard:

  • Purpose or Mission Statement
  • Anti-discrimination and harassment policies
  • Code of conduct
  • Health and Safety policy

But there is essentially no end to what you can include. Get creative!

Tips from our recent experience!:

  • Brainstorm the main reasons for doing this exercise: use that as your starting point
  • Only include things that are relevant to your situation
  • If it’s not ready to be written in stone, leave it out – anything you write can be revised at a later date
  • Make sure management is involved from the start
  • Get team buy-in, it’ll make compliance a hell of a lot easier
  • Reflect your culture in your writing style
  • Write in a way everyone can understand: corporate speak and legal terminology isn’t for everyone

You might instinctively reject the idea of rules and guidelines because you have an ‘informal’ work culture. We have both, because we think our culture is worth preserving.

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Mel Hammond

Mel looks after our digital marketing client offering, from brand persona right through to content and campaign strategy. In-house, she heads up our marketing team, assisting Sam with marketing strategy and business development.