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Writing Effective Policies and Procedures. (Book Review).

Policies are guidelines regulating organizational action and controlling the conduct of people. Procedures describe the normal operating method and provide the protocol for implementation or the "how to." Both policies and procedures are required by organizations of all types to operate efficiently, avoid employee confusion, and adhere to legal and regulatory requirements.

Writing Effective Policies and Procedures by Nancy Campbell provides an excellent guide to creating policy and procedure documents that employees will read and use. "Policy and procedure writing is about clear communication," writes Campbell. "It's making sure that people have the information they need to do what they're supposed to be doing. With the right information and enough of it, both organization and reader function properly." This book walks the writer of any type of policy or procedure through the writing process step-by-step and provides pragmatic tools, examples, checklists, guidelines, quick tips, work plans, forms, and chapter summaries.

The author stresses the need to complete a development or planning process before actually beginning to write a policy or procedure. She outlines a four-step process consisting of 1) planning (identifying the tasks, the sequence and the deadlines); 2) analysis (identifying factors influencing the project such as the audience and the types of research required); 3) research (gathering all the information required, obtaining clarification, and resolving misunderstandings); and 4) prewriting (organizing the material to ensure it is complete, accurate, well-organized, and flows logically).

One chapter is devoted to each of the steps in the writing process. In the chapter entitled "What's the Best Way to Word This?" the author addresses the need for a writer to be both a "word miser" (e.g., eliminate unnecessary adjectives and use short words, sentences, and paragraphs) and a "word master" (someone who uses words with precision and respect and avoids such pitfalls as using sexist language and making grammatical errors).

In the chapter entitled "Is There a Certain Format I Should Use?" the author examines the need to select a primary format (e.g., narrative, outline, playscript, or flowchart) that best suits the intended audience, reviews the pros and cons of each of the primary formats, and examines use of secondary formats, such as question and answer, troubleshooting, matrix table, and list, used as inserts inside primary formats.

The book also provides design tips for convincing employees to read a policy or procedure. These tips include creating visual appeal, chunking, which is the visual technique of breaking the printed matter down into chunks a reader can deal with easily, and providing white or unprinted space on the page.

The importance of the review process, including verification, validation, editing, and proofreading, is addressed in the chapter "Did I Forget Anything?"

Recognizing that one of the toughest implementation challenges is notifying employees of new or revised policies and procedures, another chapter addresses the importance of notifying employees in person, in writing, or by e-mail to avoid the otherwise inevitable comments, such as "I didn't know," when employees are asked why they are not complying with a policy or procedure. The chapter entitled "But That's Not the Way We've Always Done It" provides practical tips for dealing with the resistance that inevitably results from introducing change in the workplace. Such tips include the importance of early communication and ways to pre-empt objections.

Other topics addressed include online policies and procedures, the importance of ensuring that policies and procedures are in line with the law, the design and production elements for creating good manuals and handbooks, and the importance of scheduled reviews to update or revise policies and procedures.

Written in an informal style, Writing Effective Policies and Procedures can assist any writer in becoming a word master, word miser, and a design expert capable of shaping a policy or procedure document to meet the needs of the intended readers.

TITLE: Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: A Step-by-Step Resource for Clear Communication

AUTHOR: Nancy J. Campbell

ISBN: 0-8144-7960-X

PUBLISHER: AMACOM

PUBLICATION DATE: 1998

LENGTH: 397 pages

PRICE: $68

SOURCE: ARMA International Bookstore at www.arma.org or 888-241-0598

Sheila Taylor, MLIS, CRM, is General Manager -- Southern Ontario with CONDAR Consulting Inc. in Brampton, Ontario. She can be reached at staylor@condar.ca.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Review; book by Nancy J. Campbell
Author:Taylor, Sheila
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:695
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