How policies can be used to a CEO's advantage
It is not un-common that CEOs take advantage of corporate policies to meet two purposes – effective management as well as to defer issues considered “unpalatable”. I have been privy to many such instances where CEOs did not want to take a decision on certain issues. They would ask me, “Show me the policy”. As you guessed right, there would be no policy to handle that specific issue. It would be impossible and irrational to create a policy for each and every happening, specially the unpredictable ones. The result, the CEO would simply sit over the issue.
On the other hand, some of the CEOs with whom I have worked wanted to bring in transparency in People Management. They not only encouraged to bring about policies but also ensured that policies were adhered to. I remember one particular CEO who had asked me to submit a monthly report on ‘non adherence to policies, and reason / person behind it’. The idea was just to check the misuse and ensure fair play for everyone. It works even now!
How to ensure policies are not a hindrance to growth
In the true sense of the term, policies are guidelines to regulate the management’s functioning. They are not rigid rules that cannot be changed / amended. In fact, as the business scenario changes, the policies should be reviewed and re-written. As the companies grow, their policies also change to keep pace with the growth. I have seen this first-hand when I was heading HR in Capgemini. The company at that time was growing at a pace of more than 100% every year.
Similarly, mergers and acquisitions require extensive review of policies of both, the principal as well the acquired company. There is a need to adopt uniform policies for the unified company lest a feeling of subservient creeps in amongst the employees of the acquired company. This is what I ensured in Datamatics where two group companies, with completely diverse cultures and management styles, merged.
How senior executives in an organization use policies for conflict management
Senior executives ensure that the policies, especially involving People Management, are applied uniformly, without discrimination. I have also experienced that to resolve a conflict situation, formulation of a justified policy always helps. In one of the companies where I worked, some of the new entrants at the senior level did not get a cabin to sit. Whereas some managers junior to them had occupied vacant cabins. It was a very tricky situation as asking the incumbents to vacate would have been perceived very negatively. Since the company did not have a formal policy regarding the seating arrangement / entitlement, a thoughtfully-prepared policy was put in place. This greatly helped in resolving the conflict.
I hope you don't consider the Policy as the magic wand to cure all ills in your organization. It has to be used prudently. Let me know your views. And do let me know if I can be of any help.