Tamara Simon's Weekly Blog
Business Insights for RTOs
from my favourite Movies, TV Shows and Books
(and some other bits and pieces)

When Standing Behind Your Policies No Longer Adds Value To Your RTO

Everyone knows RTOs need to have policies as part of their systems and operations.

Well, that’s what we’re told but is it really true?

Systems Simplification Insights for RTOs

Now I know I’m being very controversial but for good reason.

Businesses/organisations are ‘told’ you MUST have policies and procedures for compliance, audit, consistency, sustainability, productivity, profitability etc. And whilst I totally agree RTOs need procedures, I have a different opinion on policies.

Let’s first look at what a policy is?

A policy outlines your intentions ie what you will do (or think you’ll do) in certain circumstances, situations and environments.

For example, a Complaints Policy outlines what you will do in the instance of a complaint. But if you’ve never had a complaint before, do you really know what you’ll do when it’s REAL and not just a hypothetical.

A policy is about the possible – the WILL.

A procedure is about the WHAT and the HOW.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in what you think you will do (which also implies you may or may not do something); I’m only interested in what you will actually do, how, when, by whom etc.

So if you’re writing a policy, what’s the purpose of it?

  1. Clearly and succinctly outline your intent
  2. Easily understood by anyone who reads it
  3. Able to be followed
  4. Congruent with your brand
  5. Compliance (possibly)

Why is it then, when I review many policies as part of streamlining an RTO’s systems, I find:

  • They’re written in techno, jargon or bureaucratic language that no-one understands.
  • It takes half a page at least to get to the real information because the template has meaningless headings like: scope, purpose, responsibility etc.

    Please get to the point – what do I really need to know?

  • When I read them, I find they can be in conflict with the brand and how the RTO operates.

Think about the TV Show: Dance Moms

I have seen bits of the show ‘Dance Moms’ (I just wanted to see what all the yelling was about).

So I googled the Dance School and stumbled upon their policies.

Two of the many rules in this studio are:

  • Your children are a reflection of you. Good manners and proper etiquette are always expected. 
  • We will treat your children with courtesy and respect.

And yet, respect is definitely not demonstrated by anyone on this show, and certainly not from the dance coach, who at one stage, chose not to call a child by their name and referred to them as ‘blondie’ and ‘you there’ as a form of punishment. Bully rather than respect would be a more accurate word.

So the purpose of these policies are….????

What’s Next?

I know RTOs must comply with the Compliance Standards set in legislation and administered by the Regulators.

However, the Standards don’t specifically state you have to have policies but most RTOs have all these policies, linked to the compliance requirements, because they think they have to. 

It’s open to interpretation, isn’t it? 

I believe you could actually have 1 Policy stating, our RTO agrees to comply with the requirements of the National Standards for RTOs.

And so I work with my clients to document the key information staff and students need to know in user-friendly and easy to read Handbooks, supported by the simple procedures required to run a training business.

So the purpose of having lots of policies that aren’t streamlined or being read or followed is….?????

And here’s my final thought:

My point is this:

If you have written policies in your RTO business, please ensure they serve a purpose and are able to be understood and followed.

Please don’t have meaningless policies which just tick a regulatory or idealistic requirement and nothing else – they simply take up space on your IT system and waste everyone’s time.

Want some help from Tamara – Australia’s Only Dedicated RTO Business Coach?

If you have found some tips and inspiration from this blog (and I hope you have), I’d love you to please share it amongst your RTO contacts and on your social media platforms.

If you would like some help to take you from STUCK to SOLUTIONS… SIMPLY from someone who’s been there, done that in RTO Land, please check out my coaching services on my website.


Or contact me direct:

0438 262 727 or tamara@takeanotherlook.com.au