Every day we use our written policies and procedures to perform an enormous amount of work taken for granted within an organizational setting. These daily functions span an area that manages every step required to manage a person in a workplace setting. Every now and then these policies are updated or revised according to the needs of the agency. Some policies are changed yearly while others are neglected for years with not even wiping off the dust on the policy book to see if they still apply. For the employee, this system of written policies and procedures is their bible at work giving them the guidance they need to constantly manage or supervise their work or other workers 24 and 7. One must ask a serious question to management and say if these policies are so important to follow, why aren’t they reviewed and updated more often to reflect the real methods of operating the systems as directed by supervisors and managers alike. The truth is these policies are only updated as the need occurs which at times could be years apart. Needless to say, when something goes wrong and the policy is not reflective of the practice one or the other must change. This lapse in updating in our written guidelines is most common and subjects staff to unwarranted discipline for not knowing the changes as they evolved or modified over a time period without any additional communication or training of the new practice.
Haunting as this may be, it hasn’t made an impact to update policies more often. People in management are still taking the process for granted and with this status quo on the books, you can only imagine the frustration, anger and desperation of an employee trying to do their work in the right methods as prescribed by the available written guidelines. The concept to update, revise or amend policies is simple and easy to do once the need has been advised or brought to the attention of the policy makers. Normally, failures dictate new ways of doing practices thus resulting in new policies. Today’s technology allows policies to be rewritten and revised within a blink of an eye compared to the old ways of doing them in hard copy file with no computer programs to aid the process and speed it up to real time technology. On the other side of the coin, because the technology is so competitive, IT policies must dictate the rules of engagment for others to follow to avoid conflicts of interest as work or ethical violations.
There is another obstacle to revising or amending policies and that is the “ghost in the system” effect. This effect is the deliberate interference [indifference] of an individual to take something as simple as updating policies and making the changes into something more recent than a status quo with no interest in making the changes for he or she likes it the old way better. Recognizing this as a symptomatic element of neglect, it is rarely addressed. This has been a traditional barrier in organizations for years as they say don’t do as it is written but do as I say to do it my way. These ghosts are traditional thinkers and often reluctant to step up with the new technology, the new training and the more recent internet or wireless technology liking the old way of doing it manually or on their time.
Sometimes it just comes down to refusing to make change happen and impair the progress expected by others to be in step with the rest of the agency. Executives need to recognize who these ghosts are and why or how they apply these deliberate stall tactics to keep things status quo. Recognized as a power or control element of their “domain” they must learn to let go and go with the flow. Management needs to take the time to understand their motives as well as convincing them that their way is the wrong way and they simply need to catch up with the times and come aboard with new practices rather than abort any changes implemented. Once these ghosts are identified, corrected or removed, the system will acknowledge positive changes in accountability, performance and the execution of thousands of tasks that rely on written guidelines to make it work with more efficiency, more information available and . better understanding of the tasks at hand.