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Implementing policies that you don’t like

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

It's a headache for every manager: You need to put into place new or revised policies that you think are wrongheaded. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Does the team agree? It sounds obvious, but you need to poll your team as you start implementing policies you don't like. Sometimes, what you think is the team consensus is actually the view of a vocal minority, or even just your own view. When you dig a little deeper, you find that many people can support the new policies — and can persuade you they're not so bad after all.

Who's left holding the bag? Sometimes, you'll object to a policy change because it means unnecessary work for you or puts you in an uncomfortable role. But you may not inevitably be left holding the bag. You may be able to delegate or distribute some of the required work among your team members. For example, if you now need to keep additional records, perhaps a team member can take that chore on. It may not, in their view, be a chore, but a welcome step toward more responsibility. Also find out what support you can get from HR and other staff functions. They may be able even to modify new policies if someone asks and makes a good case.

Can I give this priority? The tasks we like least end up at the bottom of our todo lists. This may be justified, but if you really don't think this policy is going to work, you need to implement it consistently and thoroughly to confirm this. That means giving this work high, not low, priority. Devote the time and energy you need to comply with the new policies. If, by doing so, you end up behind on your "real work," or you end up with a host of unanticipated problems, make sure your superiors know this and supply them with evidence.

Conversely, if it turns out to not be so bad, you'll be in a better position to fine-tune the policy or comply with it more efficiently. Most managers would consider it a given that you shouldn't criticize new policy directives from your superiors in front of your team. But you shouldn't avoid sharing your legitimate concerns about how a policy is going to work. That way, your team can help you address them.

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