Numbering System For Policies and Procedures

Numbering policy and procedure documents can be easy or hard depending on how you finally decide on the numbering format. I use simple numbering as you’ll see below but there are reasons for having a more complicated numbering system. I will give you both options and you can decide.

Option 1: Simple system. First of all, I like to do a four or five digit numbering system for all policies and procedures. In other words, I don’t use a separate numbers for policies and then another for procedures. Also, I like to use a sequential numbering starting from a large number like 1000 or 10000. For example, if I have a Human Resources policy on relocation, a second procedure on Purchase Requisitions, and a third policy on Forms Management, then the numbering system, based on a four-digits, would be:

  1. 1000 – Relocation Policy
  2. 1001 – Purchase Requisition Procedure
  3. 1002 – Forms Management

In some companies, I have given out ranges like 1000 to 1200 for Corporate Policies and Procedures and 1201 to 1500 for Human Resources and so on. The problem with ranges is that there is a possibility of a department running of out numbers, which by the way, happened one time to me and it has never happened again. 

Option 2: Some policies and procedures writers use a more complex system to try and pinpoint specific areas within departments. For example, a company might use a format such as:

MF-RC-PE-1001 to stand for the first procedure in the Receiving Department within the Manufacturing Department. A policy might have the number MF-RC-PL-1002 where PL stands for policy. You get the picture.

I have to admit that I did use this numbering format early in my career but it’s so hard to maintain. And forget ever maintaining it when the departments change their name. For example, when Office Services becomes Administrative Services or when Engineering becomes Research and Development or when Office of the President becomes Corporate Offices. When this happens, your entire numbering system would have to change.

Summary: I prefer the four or five number numbering system due to its simplicity. I find the second option as cumbersome but yet some companies might find good reason to use it. The system you select is your choice but all I recommend is that you do some research as to how it will hold up over time in your company environment.

Sun Tzu Art of War – Communication Tools

According to the Book on Military Administration, "In battles, as verbal communication can not be heard clearly, cymbals and drums are used as commands" As visual communication and eye contact are hampered, banners and flags are used as signals. Now the purpose of using cymbals, drums, flags and banners is to draw attention of the troops and focus them for combat under the direction of the commander. Once the troops are united as one body, the courageous ones will not advance forward by themselves and the cowardly ones will not retreat by themselves. This is the art of directing larges forces in battles. - Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

For battles at night, use more torches and drums. For battles in the day, use more banners and flags. These different means of communication can be designed to influence the judgment of the enemy. – Chapter Seven, Sun Tzu Art of War

As mentioned above, during day operations more banners and flags should be used for communication and during night operations, drums and torches should be used instead. From here we can see how observant Sun Tzu is. He even noted down what type of communication we should use during each battle, but of course the list of tools mentioned is not exhaustive, communication channels should depend on the terrain as well. For example, if you are in a flat terrain, a larger banner (daytime) or fireworks (night) should be used for communication because they can convey accurate messages, if you have explained accurately what each signals mean. But note here is that your signals, not tools, should be like your strategy, it should change with every battle. If you have a fixed form of communication signals, sooner or later, your enemy will be able to decipher them and that that would likely be the result of your defeat. This explains why Sun Tzu said the means of communication can be used to influence the enemy.

Business Application

Communication is very important in business. Communication breakdown can be detrimental to a business, like losing a big client or slow reaction to a rival's move. With a strong understanding of each communication tools weakness and strength would you then be able to use it to your advantage. Good communication system can grant a company great flexibility, shorter reaction time and faster response. It is similar to an irrigation system. With good proper control system of the flow, accurate amount of water, water flowing to the right place, the fields will flourish because of it. These are capabilities that are extremely valuable in this dynamic business environment. Some forms of communication channels are e-mail, letters, internet messenger, telephone, internet telephony or video conferencing and face to face. I will talk about their usage within the company. Please take note that having the proper communication tools is only one aspect of a good communication system though.

E-mail

E-mail could be formal or informal, nowdays because of the corporate frauds that happened in US, companies are now required to keep a copy of all the e-mails that are sent out to within and outside the company. E-mails does not solicit fast response from the recipients. It can be secure if the security system's guideline and usage is strictly adhere to. E-mail is a cheap way of sending information and documents within the company and these information can be stored electronically so cost savings align from these characteristic. But one downfall of communication is emotions are not properly delivered out. E-mails would be suitable for clear cut instructions or information that does not require immediate attention and preferably within a department. Cheap because can transfer with least costs through company even if overseas. It is sooner to technology risks.

Letter

What is described here are paper letters sent from one department to another. It is only needed when you want to formalize a request or a work order. But this kind of communication is slowly being taken over by e-mail. Letters are more concrete than e-mail because electronic files are typically subordinated to suspicion of editing or changing. Letter has the same characteristics as that of the e-mail but since it is tangible, it is not like e-mail where you can deny you have received it .. Security wise, it could be better or worse than e-mail depending on situations. It could be cost if you need to send it overseas. It is more reliable than electronic mode of communication.

Internet Messenger (Instant Messaging)

With the popular use of internet, internet messenger like ICQ, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are being popularized, it allows fast relay of information and nowadays these messengers have the capabilities to help you know whenever the person on the other end is around or not. But again, it lacks the transfer of emotions. The voice and tone of your message can not be sent out through the messenger, even with emoticons, misunderstanding can still occur. What you sent out could have been in a tone of offering help like "What do you want me to do?" But others after reading the message may interpret, you are angry with him for doing something. But Internet messenger has its pros as well, it could have been used as a channel for informal discussion within the company because some of these messengers can allow multiple users in a single chat windows. And it is cheap since most of them are free and information can be transferred overseas cheaply. It is sooner to technology risks.

Telephone

Compare to the other modes that are mentioned, it is a reliably better channel of communication. Because your tonality, voice qualities are also transmitted reducing the chance of your message being misunderstood. But it lacks another communication characteristic that is important and that is body language. It definitely solits fast response because you can only communicate when the receiver is on the other side at the same time. But it can be very expensive if you need to communicate overseas. And reliability should be better than any electronic channel since this industry has been around for a very long time.

Internet Telephony & Video Conferencing

Internet telephony is slowly becoming very popular because SMEs and MNCs can make overseas call cheaply. This also includes video conferencing, which is made more popular with the prevalence of broadband. It has all the characteristics of telephone, with video conferencing being better because body language, to some extent, can be conveyed as well. But reliability could be a problem depending on the infrastructure and service provider available on both sides. Setting it up is cheap with a web camera and broadband connection.

Face to Face

Up till now, this is the best form of communication, the only downside is you despite you can observe and receive the full signals from your conversation party, the same thing can be said for the other party as well.

So choose the proper communication tools to effectively bring your message across. The correct communication tools can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your communication system thus improving your business process.

Communication Strategies to Avoid Communication Breakdown

What actually matters in the chain of communication is whether the sender and the receiver are in sync and on the same wavelength. If that is the case then there is never going to be any communication breakdown that occurs.

There might have been times when you communicated something to someone and the person nodded sagely. You felt that the person had understood exactly what you wanted. But, alas, the end product was not something that you had in mind. So much for being a good communicator! In order for communication to flow smoothly and seamlessly, the starting point of the communication chain, the sender must take the ownership and responsibility of being an able and effective communicator.

The sender does not only have to draft the message but, must also consider how it is going to be received by the recipient and how will the message be interpreted. The entire chain of communication that starts from the sender does not end until the receiver has understood perfectly what you are trying to convey and also generated enough feedback for the sender, by means of action or a communication.

The objective behind communication is to create an understanding amongst both the parties involved and what outcome is required. In the communication model there has to be a two way communication between the sender and the receiver. Same is the case with the sharing of the responsibilities too. The onus lies on both of them to try and get it right, the very first time.

The sender on their part must be crisp and precise in their communication. The sender must convey relevant information in a coherent manner.

The receiver on their part must be an active listener and must be able to comprehend exactly what the sender is trying to convey. In case of any questions, they must seek clarification before doing what they feel the sender requires. Also, the receiver must never try and assume things. In case of any doubts it is always best to check with the sender from whom the communication commenced. This will spare them a lot of heartache and trouble later on.

As human beings we have embedded filters that we use to allow only what we want to hear to come our way. Therefore, what we hear is what we want to hear and not what the opposite person might have wanted us to hear. As a sender, you can cross check to find out if the message you conveyed has been interpreted on the opposite side exactly as you wanted it to be.

Poor communication can result in a lot of discord, errors and misunderstandings all around you. These can be avoided if the intent is made known clearly by the sender, in clear and specific language, with no room for ambiguity. Therefore, the sender must state clearly what they want and mean. The receiver on their part must seek clarification of the sender’s intent when uncertain. The receiver on their part must have good questioning skills to fall back on.

Hence, clear communication techniques are a must for all concerned.

The Importance Of Communication Skills

Communication skills simply do not refer to the way in which we communicate with another person. It encompasses many other things – the way in which we respond to the person we are speaking, body gestures including the facial ones, pitch and tone of our voice and a lot of other things. And the importance of communication skills is not just limited to the management world, since effective communication skills are now required in each and every aspect of our life. However, in this article we will discuss the importance of communication skills in two areas namely business and relationships.

First, let us concentrate on the importance of communication in business. We can measure the importance of communication skills in the business sector when we take a look at job advertisements. There is little chance that you will come across an advertisement which does not mention that candidates should have good communication skills. Perhaps this is the only criteria which creates a positive impact when a person goes for a job interview. This is because technical qualifications are likely to be more or less the same for the candidates.

Without effective communication skills, a person may find it impossible to climb up the corporate ladder. Promotions come to those who can communicate effectively at all levels, from senior management level to the lowest employee. The use of communication skills in business is covered in more detail at http://www.communicationskillsworld.com

As for communication within relationships, it should be remembered that maintaining good relationships is a way to a healthy lifestyle, and a good relationship can only be maintained by maintaining healthy communication with our near and dear ones. They are the ones we stay with on a regular basis. They are also the ones who see us at our best as well as our worst.

Good communication skills help the relationships to develop along good lines, and ensure that arguments and disagreements are kept to a minimum. Good communication will avoid arguments and insults

Another important part of communication in relationships is taking the initiative yourself. Do not wait for your best friend to call you after a long break. Instead take the phone and also take initiative to start the conversation. Often people have this problem while communicating, which comes from fear. They always think a thousand times whether to approach a person or not. But a person with good communication skills is always the first to start a conversation.

Given the importance of communication skills in both the personal and the corporate world, any individual who want to make progress with their life should develop this important skill.