Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Culture of Rules – Part II

Last week we talked about rules and how too much order can actually become a hindrance to your employees and impact the effectiveness of your entire organization.

The CEO I mentioned in last week’s post had become obsessed with creating and following rules in the organization. It had started with some restrictions about dealing with big orders, moved into the daily routine of the organization, spread into what the employees could and could not display on their desks, and now was restricting when they could and could not work.

“You should have been here last Friday,” my friend told me. “Sally has to complete the next day’s work schedule at the end of the day for the install crew to use the next morning. At 3:45 her phone rang. It was a customer with a problem. It took her some time, but Sally handled the problem then went back to work on the schedule, finishing it at 4:15. She is now on probation for working past 4:00.”

Personally, I’ve always believed that rules are our friends. They help bring order to chaos and provide us with structure. But, too many rules create restrictions that hamper our ability to get things done and stifle our creativity. Like the students at Hogwarts, I was watching the creativity and vitality being sucked right out of this organization. When I walked through the door at this organization in the past, I was greeted by a lot of smiling faces, enthusiastic greetings, and animated waves from people on the telephone. This time when I walked in, the mood was silent and somber.

The CEO had succeeded in creating order out of seeming chaos, but at what costs? I could see how it was impacting morale, but I wondered how it was impacting the customers.

“Hell, there are no rules here.
We’re trying to accomplish something”
– Thomas Alva Edison

While rules can certainly create structure in an organization, too many rules or rules of the wrong type can have a disastrous affect on morale and creativity. While you often hear people encouraged to “think outside of the box,” too many rules create boxes with thick walls that we can’t seem to get through. When I worked in Telecom, one of my favorite questions to ask was: “Do we have any stupid rules? Rules that are designed to help us, but, instead, actually hinder us from satisfying our customers?” The answer was often “yes” and so my first act was to remove any rules deemed “stupid” by my team.

What about your organization? Do your rules provide a sound structure for decision making or do they restrict your employees from doing what is right? Are your rules providing you guidance or are they restricting you from actually accomplishing something? Are your rules making it easier to meet your customer expectations or are they making it impossible for your employees to meet customer needs?

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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