I often hear people complaining about the rules, trying to find ways around them and, in general, being less productive – the very opposite of why the rule was made in the first place.
Why do we make rules? When I talk about rules I mean laws, company policies or procedures, sports rules, chore charts for our kids or anything like it.First, you have to have a goal. Unless you have a goal there are no need for rules. You can do whatever you want and get whatever result you get! Just ask the Cheshire Cat.
But let’s assume we do have a goal – we make rules based off of two factors: trust and consistency. This video, is about Trust.
(TRUST) Why do we put up railings on balconies? It’s because we don’t trust that someone won’t accidentally look too far over the edge.
Every day we make trust judgements. And it’s only natural to have few rules for those we trust, and more rules for those we don’t. While it’s important we make these judgements, sometimes we can get a little carried away.
I saw an email recently where a company reminded its knowledge worker employees that they were not allowed to come in to work late, leave early nor take unplanned time off unless it was previously approved by a manager. If they didn’t follow the rules, they may face company discipline, up to and including dismissal.
There is a big contradiction in life here – For 12 years up through high school we were reprimanded if we were late or left early or didn’t show up for class. Then in college we were told we are an adult and could do whatever we wanted to. But now that we are in the work force, we go back to grade school rules. Why is that?
Guidelines like these are important if they are working a shift and production depended upon them. I get that. But most people are knowledge workers now. The models are really very different.
But it isn’t just an 8-5 work time issue. It’s also applies to sick and vacation time, internet policies, lunch breaks, social media restrictions and a host of other company policies.
I once worked at a company which gave everyone three weeks of vacation, but we were the only ones who would keep track of it. And we could come in when we wanted to and leave when we wanted to. If we wanted to watch a movie in the middle of the day, go for it. As long as the work gets done and we worked hard – that’s what matters.
Although we never turned in our daily hours, sick or vacation days, I didn’t know anyone who took advantage it. Simply put, they didn’t abuse the system. In fact, I haven’t worked with a group who worked harder.
On the other hand, with all the restrictions in some companies, I hear employees often wasting time trying to find ways to get around or stretch the rules or complaining about them. In the end, this makes them less productive – the very opposite of what all those rules are trying to accomplish.
Without the right level of trust from employers, employees often hold back and don’t give their all. But, it goes the other way, too. Employees need to give a healthy level of trust their employers. There must be a good balance between the two.
Wisely letting go is actually liberating. If you make too many rules with your kids, for example, you wind up spending all your time as an enforcer rather than actually enjoying them.
My philosophy? Stop wasting time and making rules that, in the end, really don’t matter. This allows you to give your attention to the things that are most important. Trust your employees, focus on what will make you successful and let the small stuff take care of itself.
Will they make mistakes. Sure, just like you do, I do, we all do. In fact we need to give them that latitude and be OK with it. What they do next will show their trustworthiness.
And if they’re not trustworthy, they need to leave. But that also means you need to trust. It initially might be a scary thing to do, but I bet you’ll find that on many levels, the payback is huge.
I once heard a story of a newlywed couple going to marriage counseling. He complained that she didn’t trust him with the other women in the office. After a little probing the councilor discovered this was his second marriage, she used to be his secretary and she had good reason to not trust him. Ouch.