Enforcing and Communicating Policies

Key takeaways:

  • A leader should be able to take personal responsibility for his/her followers' performance and actions by enforcing policies which encourage high performance.
  • The key is knowing when and how to communicate them because the workplace is constantly changing, as well as changing policies and procedures. Regularly communicating your policies and procedures means that workers are informed and on track.

A leader needs to take personal responsibility for the performance and actions of followers by enforcing policies that encourage high follower performance. By enforcing policies, leaders communicate what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior (Lawler & Rhode, 1976) and establish standards for performance (Manz, 1986).

Communicating workplace policies is important not only because it allows employees to understand the rules but also because written clarification of those rules makes it easier to implement them if appropriate. There are however advantages and disadvantages of verbally communicating job policies or setting them in writing.

The following are just a few issues you should consider when determining the best way to ensure employees understand conduct standards in your workplace:

  • When to communicate work policies. Before they have the chance to break them, you will need to make sure your employees are aware of the rules, and you will want to send regular reminders too. When you hire your first employee, for example, chances are the process of orientation will be pretty informal. You may just want to explain to your employee what behavioral standards you expect.
  • Oral communication of work policies. It's hard to capture a discussion. Be confident you've come away from it in agreement with both sides. Oral communication is usually best for very small businesses, where employers and employees need a great deal of freedom to communicate with each other.

When you want to meet verbally, just make sure you've scheduled plenty of time with the person to go over the policies. This would generally happen when the employee is recruited first. Make a list of the policies and rules you want the employee to follow so you don't miss any of them. Explain why you need to take the time to explain your standards and expectations to the employee.

  • Written communication of work policies. Some people don't like writing things out because they believe it ties them to a commitment they don't want to hang on to. And, in truth, they're right in many instances. On the other hand, there are several benefits of placing the rules and standards of in writing.

They're formalized and you can make sure all staff get the same details. When an individual makes an infraction, you should apply the policy. If you don't have any written policies, you would have to rely on your memory to explain them. You can document that all employees know the work rules because you can make sure they sign a receipt after getting a copy of the rules.

However you chose to do it, you need to make sure you have consistency. Workplace policies must be regularly followed to minimize vulnerability to claims of discrimination and increase becoming a part of the culture of a company. A policy cannot be extended to one person, changed for another or responded to in specific situations only. To reach this level of consistency, employees, managers and executives must all demonstrate the same dedication to organizational compliance implementation.


  1. Lawler, E. E., & Rhode, J. G. (1976). Information and control in organizations. New York, NY: Goodyear Pub. Co.
  2. Manz, C. C. (1986). Self-Leadership: Toward an Expanded Theory of Self-Influence Processes in Organizations. Academy of Management Review, 11, 585–600.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.



Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.