POLICIES, PROCEDURES, AND PROTOCOLS OR POLITICS?

Year ending activates the reflection mode in most of us and our journey into the interior begins. Reflecting on the past occurrences, to adopt a balanced approach for all my future enterprises, I revisited memory lane and found that organizational policies, procedures and protocols functioned as my nemesis. I know what you are thinking. There she goes again with her blasphemous utterances. Aren’t policies, procedures or protocols the backbone of any organization as it not only lends structure to employees and business activities but also leads to business efficiencies? How can then one hold the afore-mentioned responsible for one’s downfall?

You’re right in entertaining such a doubt. However, a different sort of ‘P’ turns this backbone into a weapon for whatever known or unknown reason to achieve the intended ulterior motive. It is called, ‘Politics’. A personal interpretation of the organization’s policies, procedures, and protocols sometimes takes an ugly turn, especially if it is orchestrated by individuals who are in an advantageous position to use and abuse power and authority, and who find themselves under the clutches of ‘the corrupt’ either accidentally or through deliberate intention.

If you think I am beating about the bush, I will get straight to the point. We use language to communicate with each other or with groups in such a way that the involved parties understand each other without having to strain themselves. However, when people tend to pick on accents or pronunciations even though they have no major issues in understanding the speaker then it becomes a political act or manipulative move contrary to how language is viewed or acknowledged in the National Language Policy (page 7, column 1, subdivision b, last paragraph).

“The English used in Australia has been modified by its speakers/writers to adopt it to the new demands and needs of its environment. These Australian contexts of use for the English language backgrounds of users of English in Australia have led to the evolution of uniquely Australian varieties of English. The national character of Australian English is accorded positive recognition in this policy.”

We know that covert surveillance organized by employers without authorization by a covert surveillance authority is an offence at workplace and not allowed at home unless there are reasons such as criminal investigations, security reasons as there are dangers to individuals’ lives, etc. Even with the authorization of covert surveillance authorities, such monitoring by employers without providing the employees a written notice, fourteen days before the beginning of the surveillance, in which the kind of surveillance (computer, camera, or tracking) is indicated could fetch the former severe penalties, which are 50 penalty units equivalent to 850 crimes (1 penalty unit =17 crimes, Sentencing Procedure Act). In accordance with the ‘Workplace Surveillance Act 2005’ No.47 sections 10-16,  if any employer fails to follow this legislative requirement or remarks or comments or threatens to watch employees in toilets, change rooms, showers, or any other bathing facility at the workplace it becomes not only a breach of law but also Fair work Ombudsman issue.

Likewise, stakeholders, whether individual or group, with varied interests in the organization or program or project must focus on the outcome which could impact them in different ways rather than on manipulating the employees for personal gains or benefits even though the latter are regarded as automatic stakeholders of a business.

Another policy that deserves attention is the secondary employment one. Most organizations insist that only a written approval be obtained wherein the employees guarantee that the organizations’ reputation will not be tarnished by their activities, that the organizations’ contacts, suppliers, partners will not be used for any advantages or benefits associated with their secondary employment/business ventures, and that their secondary employment will not cause any conflict of interest of any sort. However, no matter how well-written and explicit the organizational policies, procedures or protocols are humans always find loopholes to not uphold these in spirit or in letter.

In retrospect, my power lay in the way I chose to respond to the challenges I encountered. Flexibility, and not rigidity, is the need of the hour. The next normal is adapting policies to suit the varied interests of engaged employees.

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