Up to Snuff #39: What are the roles of policy statements, manuals and procedures?

Up to Snuff #39: What are the roles of policy statements, manuals and procedures?

By, Afua Serwah Osei-Bonsu

The roles of policy statements, manuals and procedures are specific.

Policy statements pertain to general rules.  (Kennedy, Pg. 324) Manuals are more descriptive than policy, with narrow topics about the duties of a position, a group or a piece of equipment.  (Kennedy, Pg. 325)

Manuals may refer to how to put something together or how to maintain it.  What manuals are not are procedural, not specific situations or details of specific employee actions.  (Kennedy, Pg.325)

Procedures differ from manuals and policy statements.  Procedures are “step by step instructions for performing a specific activity repeatedly.”  (Kennedy, Pg. 325)  According to Technical and Professional Writing, “if a procedure succeeds, activity proceeds uniformly.” Procedures are also described as absolute. (Pg.325)

Rhetorical process necessary to impact effective policy statements, manuals and procedures:

“When writing policy one should state policy simply, state only policy that can be enforced and maintain the identity of the policy statement by avoiding general descriptions and procedural details.”  (Kennedy, Pg. 329)

Manuals should be descriptive. Manuals should have formatting where headers and footers have a system that is consistent.  Manuals should have appropriate reader signals, readability and breaks.  The “breaks” in a manual may be things like bulleted lists, tables, charts, figures, technical illustration.  Manuals should be directive. (Kennedy, Pgs. 332-334)

“Procedures should include only procedural discourse and eliminate any policy and manual.”  (Kennedy, Pg. 338)  The procedure should be logically sound and “organized by process, not by participant.”  (Kennedy, Pg. 338) Procedures should be laid out in order of importance or chronologically or alphabetically and may describe procedures from the beginning to end of work day.  Procedures may also include indexes and chapters.  Five essential characteristics that Kennedy’s, “Technical and Professional Writing” includes are:  accuracy, feasibility, specificity, honesty, and thoroughness. (Kennedy, pg. 339)

Are policy statements, manuals or procedures persuasive?

Manuals are directive, not persuasive and not part of a rhetorical problem.  “Manuals and procedures are thought to be hard core technical writing concerned with usability, verification and logically sound reasoning.” (Kennedy, 327) Policy statements, however may be a little persuasive, but function as general rules.

Kennedy, George E. & Tracy T. Montgomery, Technical and Professional Writing:  Solving Problems at Work, Upper Saddle River, NJ Prentice Hall


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