5 Tips for Implementing New Policies When You Work on a Small Team
Working on a small team can be an exciting experience that’s invaluable to your career. Without the layers of bureaucracy and processes, you feel connected to your job and colleagues. You’re not a cog in a giant machine; your efforts are meaningful. Your small team needs you. And there’s something about being the scrappy underdog that’s both motivating and validating.
But when everyone’s immersed in their work, there’s not much time left over for establishing the policies and regular employee activities that can help shape a workplace’s overall vibe. Weekly happy hours, casual Fridays, community service projects – none of these things are urgent, but they are important when it comes to developing a company’s culture.
Sometimes you have to step up and just do something yourself (working on a small team taught you that). Here are five tips for leading policy implementation at work.
1. Make sure your idea is fully developed.
Time and energy are at a premium. Anything that feels like a hassle or waste of time will never take off. Ask yourself if your idea can be easily implemented. Then ask yourself if it feels on-brand for your company and its employees. If you work for a media company, shooting a monthly video for the company blog could be a fun, easy way to bring everyone together and showcase your company’s culture to prospective clients and employees. If you work with a team of sales reps who spend half their time on the road, the logistics alone will be prohibitive.
2. Get your manager’s OK.
Unless you are the boss, you need to run your policy idea past the person in charge, even if you’ve been encouraged to take initiative and work autonomously. While you may have been given some freedom in how you use your work hours, that same flexibility probably doesn’t apply to your colleagues’ time. And don’t put your boss on the spot by bringing it up in a group setting. Use a regularly scheduled check-in or ask to schedule a one-on-one meeting.
3. Create a mini marketing plan.
Let’s say you got that monthly wellness activity approved. If you pin one note to the bulletin board in the kitchen two weeks in advance, you’re probably going to be the only one doing yoga in the conference room. Ask anyone in advertising – people need to see and hear a message multiple times before it makes any kind of impact on them. Sure, pin a notice to the bulletin board. But also send email reminders, bring it up during the staff meeting and mention it during those ad hoc coffee runs.
4. Lead by example.
As Gandhi said in what is perhaps the most overused quote ever, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If a new policy is your brainchild, you need to set an example. You need to be there for every service day, nutrition workshop or happy hour. You may also need to handle some of the organizational details or field coworkers’ questions and feedback (both negative and positive).
5. Try, try again.
Since we’re already using platitudes, remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It may take a while for a new policy or activity to catch on. If participation is a little low or unenthusiastic at first, get some feedback, make some adjustments and try again. Your tenacity is part of what makes you such crucial member of your small (but mighty!) team. Don’t give up!
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.