Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Guideline and Policy

rulesGuideline vs Policy

Many individuals when asked about guidelines and policies don’t know how to distinguish one from the other. Others merely don’t give a fuzz about it and often neglect the importance of knowing the difference between the two. Because of this, people often misuse the word policy for a guideline and vice versa.

To lessen the cloud of confusion between the two, guidelines are documents that seek to simplify a set of processes with regard to an established habit or practice. With this, it is safe to denote that guidelines are never compulsory compared to protocols or policies. Although these documents are not mandatory, they are still an important part of the entire process. The use of a set of guidelines can really impact the entire system in a positive fashion. For one, the employee’s movements or actions can become more knowable without sacrificing the quality of the process or outputs. In fact, the quality is almost always seen to improve more with the application of a set of guidelines. Whatever the organization (a private sector, a school org or the government), guidelines really ‘guide’ these groups to ensure that their processes are carried out well aside from being simplified.

On the contrary, policies are more compulsory than guidelines. These can be an intentional map of actions that serves to guide an organization or group in decision making or in attaining positive results. Being mandatory, policies are more synonymous to protocols, rules and are similar to the executive orders or decrees mandated by the head of the state. However, policies must not be construed as completely similar to rules or laws because the latter limits certain behaviors (a characteristic obviously not present in policies).

In addition, it can be heard , that policies are the ones that can be violated by the people. You often hear expressions that some individuals have not followed the policies and therefore violated them. In the case of guidelines, it is inappropriate to say that these can be violated. Because guidelines merely serve as a guide, one cannot be accused to violate such if he or she was not following them. Lastly, because policies are enforceable the enforcer would require the people to follow them whereas guidelines are best if followed by the people even if they are not required to be followed.

In summary, the two degrees differ in the following aspects:

1. Policies are more of the mandatory type compared to guidelines that are not mandatory.

2. If one does not follow the policies, he or she is said to have violated them whereas if one fails to follow a set of guidelines he or she is not really violating them. It is more appropriate to say that it could have been better if he or she has followed the guidelines.


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