Policy consists of authoritative statements that provide direction, guidelines and limitations intended to influence and determine actions by organizational members. Policy includes guidance for developing strategy that will achieve objectives or a desired end state for the organization.
Simply going about daily operations will not achieve your goals. There must be a deliberate end state and a feasible strategy to achieve it. Policies are those organizational guidelines that communicate the framework and means leadership wants to confine the strategy within. Often, organizational policies communicate in an implicit manner the most important values the leadership holds. Policies set the conditions for a sustainable organizational climate. The best policies are those with which individual leaders are proud to publically associate themselves.
On December 28, 2008 Spokane Washington was experiencing some of the heaviest snowfall in its history. So much snow that a Rosauers grocery store roof collapsed on that day. The structural damage was profound, although thankfully only one employee suffered minor injuries. It would take months to build. Rosauers is a regional grocery chain with only about 2100 employees. While the long-term decision to rebuild the store was financially easy, the short-term decision on the employment of the 120 branch employees was not easy at all.
CEO Jeff Philipps led a policy decision that set the framework for the recovery strategy: no employees would be laid off. There is no doubt there was a lot of pressure to not pay employee salaries and benefits during the re-build. This policy was an essential embodiment of Rosauers Supermarket’s values, that the company would keep faith with its employees even when it was hard, even when the national economy was falling apart. Employees were paid 90% of salaries and provided work hours at other stores.
Rosauers did recover from this loss financially. Mr. Philipps policy in this case had both short- and long-term affects on this company’s culture. This and other policies determines the type of employees and leaders attracted to Rosauers, and the community’s perception of their local supermarket. Mr. Philipps paid short-term costs for the long-term end state he sought for Rosauers.