Let’s just clear this up, for those of you who are rule followers: Yes, there are a few rules that organizations need in order to comply with the law and create necessary structure and standards. Other than a scant supply of dictates, what more do you really need? (Even Moses came back down the mountain with only 10 commandments!)

The whole question of rules was reinforced by a blog called “What Every Manager Should Know About Managing Gen Y.” It advised leaders to create ‘Gen Y-friendly rules.” In fact, the authors recommend that you review all rules that people seem to try to work around.

Better yet, put all rules on the chopping block. Start with these:

Rules you can’t or won’t enforce. If people are breaking a rule right and left, ditch it. Either it’s impossible to enforce or the organizational will isn’t there. Lack of enforcement promotes cynicism and apathy about rules in general, even the ones you really need.

Rules that upper management folks break. If rules apply to some and not to others, get rid of them. Selective enforcement of the rules contributes to a toxic work environment.

Rules that don’t help you achieve your goals. We could insist that all of our staff maintain X hours of office time. We don’t because we realize that time in the office has little, if any, relationship to our goal – delighted clients. Keep your eyes on the prize and only create rules that are necessary for achieving it.

Rules that are micromanagement in disguise. Rules that tell people what to do and how to do it should raise alarm bells. Instead of dictating the “whats” and “hows,” only require that people orient towards the right goals and adhere to your ethical standards. Then let them exercise judgment and creativity in their work.

There are some pretty outrageous rules out there, if online postings are to be believed. Even if your policies don’t include a requirement that you give 2-weeks’ notice before dying, you may want to review your list. There may be some oppressive or just unnecessary rules that are doing your organization more harm than good.

Lots of rules may be an indicator that you’re spending way too much time on the activity of work – what you will DO. When your focus in on what you will ACHIEVE, you need fewer rules. Organizations can’t dictate their way into success – that requires an unrelenting focus on where you’re going and the crucial few non-negotiable rules that will help you get there.

Have a question about this topic or want some input from Humanergy? Contact us!

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