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The holidays are behind you and perhaps so are the New Year’s resolutions you have made for your business. Deep sigh. Like most leaders we create strategic, people, financial, marketing, and technology plans to accomplish during the year, and then life gets in the way! Can you relate? The initiative you wanted to launch by February 28, you may now be pushing to April or May.  Shift happens!

A good place to start, is to review your workplace policies and practices. These have impact on your workforce engagement and productivity and ultimately your revenue and profitability. If you have not reviewed these in more than two years, it is time to grab a big cup of coffee and consider that they may be outdated for your business and today’s workplace challenges.

Employees often cite baffling workplace rules as an impediment to innovation, productivity, and engagement. Some policies/rules are essential and required to ensure respect, dignity, and safety in the workplace and these include Anti-Harassment, Non-Violence, ADA, and other legally mandated guidelines. But overly restrictive rules limit an employee’s ability to achieve the best results. In this age of technology and immediate customer feedback, an employee must have the ability to respond. Employees are motivated by values and “walking your talk” versus rules that are restrictive and dated. Rules should simplify the things we do every day, not make them more complicated.

When partnering with clients, I find they have frequently created a policy as a result of a single occurrence that caused frustration and was time-consuming to resolve. One employee caused a problem and was a hassle to deal with and voila, a policy is created to deal with this potential situation in the future. When I ask if the other 200 (+/-) employees have exhibited this behavior, the answer is typically, NO!

The result is all employees now experience a policy or rule based on the lowest common denominator, a problem employee. As you review consider:

  • Are your policies and practices current?
  • What would you think if you received these on your first day of employment? If your inner voice says, “no, you have got to be kidding, or really?”, it is time to modify or remove.

Here are some examples:

  • Leave your personal life at the door. OK, we would like to think this is possible but NO WAY! If you have a financial, personal, or medical problem, you are going to be worried about this as you go through your day and life. Perhaps a better consideration for a policy is “do your job and achieve results”. How do you back this up? Develop job descriptions with key performance indicators and measure through frequent touchbase session!
  • Outside employment or moonlighting. I grew up in the time of the Boomer, you work for a company or you leave. Nowadays, people work for company x and … teach yoga, work for a nonprofit, be a personal chef, sing in a band, have an online business…you get the picture. Everyone seems to have a “side business”. With this consideration, it is time to say Adios, Goodbye, Arrivederci… these policies don’t apply today and are viewed as controlling and disrespectful by Gen Y and Z. The only caveat is working in a competitive environment where confidentiality is a consideration. The issue is then confidentiality and trade secrets, not outside employment.

You pay your employees to deliver results and what they do on their time is up to them. The outside gig gives your employee the ability to feel more financially secure while flexing their creative muscle which may ultimately impact your organization with creativity and new ideas.

As Thomas Edison said, “We have no rules here, we are trying to accomplish something”. So how do you know if you have rules that get in the way of providing service and engaging employees?

Here is an exercise you can use.

  • Gather your team together (a department, location, leadership team, etc.) and break them into groups of three. Ask them to develop a list of all the stupid rules (whether real or imagined) they feel create barriers that hold them back from better serving the needs of customers. Suggest that they can list rules that could be “killed” or suggest ways they can be improved.

Ask the group – “Which rules should we kill right now?” and write the answer and post publicly. Once all groups have posted their responses, decide the two rules that should be killed IMMEDIATELY, and which would come next or be amended. This is a powerful exercise and an opportunity to send the message that employees make a difference in the direction of the company.

Once the exercise is complete, make a running list of those things that occur in the business and make you “scratch your head”. Chances are they are related to that strategic, people, financial, marketing, or technology initiative and it is now time to brush off the resolutions.

If you need a partner to help you “brush off” your people resolutions contact us for a complimentary consultation.