Do people resist policies or do policies fail? The answer is YES to both. Often times there is pushback on policies from the “ground level”. On the other hand when policies are launched they are expected to be caught and implemented by associates automatically without formal introduction or aid.
Why people resist policies and why policies fail
Before we review the failure of polices and why this happens, let’s look at a model that reflects the common structure that is used to create policies.
COMMON POLICY CREATION SYSTEM STRUCTURE
Does the above structure work? It may on occasion but a far more effective method would be more cyclical like we see in The Impact of Internal Communication Lapses in Organizational Systems. A form of analysis is commonly the basis of policy creation but many times there are issues on all levels. Leadership commonly views policy creation as a one and done activity which leaves no room for evolution.
ISSUES ON EACH SYSTEM LEVEL
ANALYSIS: Issues are not properly analyzed because those on the ground level are not being consulted and/or the data collected from the ground level is misinterpreted due to lack of understanding of duties and execution on the ground level.
RATIONALE: The rationale for the policy is often based on the business need not the needs of the associates to meet the business need.
STRATEGY: Strategies are usually based on the impact the issue has on the revenue of the business and leaves out the impact the issue has on the members of the organization .
POLICY: Policies commonly become rigid and linear. Policies are developed on the high level but are not equipped for execution or evolution.
IMPLEMENTATION: The policy hits the ground level and creates a shockwave and a knee jerk reaction that was not anticipated or prepared for in the policy creation stage.
Another piece to this issue is that associates are not brought into the decision making process and the policy has no built in fail-safe methods or room for evolution. The policy only has a live or die system engrained into its structure when there should be an anticipated evolutionary stage. The policy will be subject to forced evolution regardless if the policy falls short.
THE GAP BETWEEN POLICY THEORY AND POLICY IMPLEMENTATION
Consider this real life example of policy failure in the case of anti-bullying policies in the US.
Since Montana passed its school bullying bill this year, every state in the country now has a law on the books addressing this pervasive and problematic form of peer harassment. So it’s time to take a victory lap, right? Maybe not. The report “illustrates the gap that can emerge between the intentions of a law and the effectiveness of its implementation via policy and regulations. There are still many school districts in the U.S. that have failed to institute policy protections, even in states which require them by law”. – Evle Blad
This scenario is unfortunately typical within organizations. The gap between policy theory and policy implementation is commonly unknown, misrepresented and/or under estimated. The determination of not only the policy but also what type of feedback loop will most effectively police the policy must be determined in the policy creation process.