An organisation without policy lacks control and members have absolutely no guidance on how to make decisions.

Although they effectively constrain your actions – the benefits of policies usually far outweigh the impact they might have on your freedom of expression. These benefits include:

  • effective decision making among employees and volunteers;
  • the protection of staff in their workplace and employment;
  • the consistent delivery of specific tasks;
  • objectivity in things such as team selection;
  • accountability throughout the organisation; and
  • allowing ‘management’ to get on with their tasks rather than continually being asked to adjudicate.

Therefore the role of policy in any organisation is threefold:

  • to provide general guidance about the mission of your organisation (for example, affiliations with governing bodies, or whether you are profit-making or not for profit);
  • to provide specific guidance regarding the strategies to achieve the mission of your organisation (for example, the determination of training times and membership fees); and
  • to provide a mechanism of behaviour control within your organisation in the pursuit of the mission (for example, the election of office bearers, complaint resolution—things like that).

In short, policies, and the procedures that go with them, allow your organisation to function in an optimal manner and ultimately achieve its very reason for existence.

Think of the organisation you are familiar with and list out the policies and procedures of that organisation.

What areas do the policies and procedures cover?

Are there any missing?

Are there any implied policies – that is, ways of doing things that are accepted, but not written down anywhere?

Take that list your wrote and now reflect on the three roles of policy.

Which category do they fit into:

  • General Guidance;
  • Specific Guidance;
  • Behaviour control?

What do you notice? Are there any areas with lots of policies or not many? And why would this be?

The great thing is that you shouldn’t have to invent policy from scratch.

If you find there are policies that you feel your organisation doesn’t have but perhaps should or aspects in your policies and procedures that are missing there are a many resources out there that you can consult.

Your first port of call could be to ask similar organisations to share their policies and procedures with you – other university sport organisations for example.

Whilst they might not be exactly the same or apply directly to your situation they will at least give you some clues as to the areas and details you should at least implement within your organisation.

In addition they may already have utilised policies from organisations further up the chain to make your task much easier!

Sporting-wise, the Play by the Rules website (linked below) provides a range of resources including toolkits that contain a number of policy templates.

As an example, attached to this topic is the Sun Smart Policy that could be adopted by almost any sporting club.

Have a look at it – how is it written? What language have they used?

What’s the tone?

What is the overall intention of this particular policy?

Is it relevant to your organisation?

If so, can you adopt it ‘as is’, or would you need to modify it?

These questions can guide you on how to view policy generally and adopt it in your club.