Rules, Rules, Rules…

One thing that I always tried to impress upon my managers (both experienced as well as new) was concerning the “rules of the business”.

I didn’t want them to believe…nor to act…like their main mission was to enforce the rules with their people.

Yes, of course, it’s important that all employees be familiarized with the basic rules & regulations…be they departmental, company-wide, industry standards or governmental requirements…so we’re not doing something to upset the business nor our customers.

But a true leader’s main focus needs to be on their people & what they can do to help them be successful!

“Your job is NOT to enforce the rules! Don’t worry about preaching them or shoving them down anyone’s throat…they’re already written down someplace. Your job is to find a way to bend them for the good of your people.

“Find a way to do something nice for them by not seeking to catch them or punish them. Go as far as you need to without blatantly disregarding our rules & regulations.

“Then just remind them of the favor you’ve done & they’ll be glad to repay you a hundred times over!

The old adage that “you can attract more bees with honey than vinegar” is absolutely true. Your people must be convinced that you’re 100% committed to them, that you’re totally obsessed with always doing the very best thing for them, that more than anything, you want them to be successful.

Follow that principle & everything else – – customer satisfaction, business performance, profitability, etc. – – will simply fall into place!

And along the line, you have to be flexible when it comes to strict enforcement of, and adherence to, “the rules”.

Yes, there are some that are totally non-negotiable, e.g., Federal & State regulatory requirements, & you can’t risk breaking them as the consequences could be severe.

But there are others (a minor tardy, a less-than-optimal customer interaction, a minor dispute with another employee, etc.) that while you don’t have to necessarily overlook them, perhaps you shouldn’t be too hasty in bringing down the hammer.

Speak with your people. It’s fine to let them know that you’re aware of what happened, but the approach you take can often turn a potentially-negative situation into s more positive learning experience.

Leadership involves give-and-take. Negotiation. Being fluid.

Always see what can be done to get your message across without always having to make a federal case out of it.

Be careful of showing undue favoritism or being accused of playing favorites, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to cash in your markers when you really need in the future.

Just take a moment to think & consider the employee’s perspective (perhaps, he/she is going through a difficult time at home getting the kids ready in the morning or they have a stressful personal decision weighing heavily on their minds) on stuff.

And more often than not, you’ll arrive at a decision that’s acceptable for all parties involved…the employee, you & the company!

Good luck!

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