First Rule - Do not make silly rules!

"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win" - Jonathan Kozol

Like Romeo and Juliet, if something can't be, it most certainly WILL be! cartoon4-eng

After being a parent for seven years now, I know this lesson all to well!  As soon as I make a "house law," my kids want nothing more than what I just outlawed.  Fun right!

The work place is the same.  Make something an absolute "NO" and you'll enjoy policing it indefinitely.  Or, until you give in on the rule!

I'm not talking about common sense rules like, no fighting, no dirty talk, no unprofessional clothes, etc.

I'm talking about small things that mean a lot to our employees.  Things like social media access.  The ability to shop online during breaks and lunch hours.  The little things that tend to make employees feel like virtual prisoners during the work week.

I can already hear some of you say, "But Jeremy, our access is limited by IT.  It's not my decision."  Well if that is the case, you are off the hook.  You can place the blame on online security and the anonymous folks in the land of IT.  Nothing scares people like the IT empire!  If you can, use it anywhere possible.

What I'm talking about here, is when you may have the call.  When I was a young manager, I was driven crazy by my teams "playing on the internet."  No games, come on.  No shopping, com on!  "What are you people thinking?"  I would say to myself.

Of course, when I was on the front line, I would venture to websites too.  Just to unplug for a few moments.  Google something I was curious about or to check up on breaking news.  Remember, our front line employees have one of the most critical jobs in the entire organization.  That is despite the fact that we tend to hire entry level folks for these jobs.

Heck, that is a post for a different day, but it is a fact that I constantly struggle with.

These employees are so critical because they directly impact our most valuable assets, our customers.  Think about it.  Why do we consistently alienate this level of employees with rules that make them feel like prisoners?  If they feel crummy about their jobs, it's going to bleed in their interactions with paying customers.

Remember the movie "Ghostbusters?"  After being told off by Dr. Venkman (Bill Murry), Janine answers the phone, "Ghostbusters, what do you want?"

janine

Not exactly a kind hello to a prospective customer!

So, I ask you to relax.  Save the forbidden fruit for the movies and love stories.  Use your common sense and avoid rules that are for show.  Make rules that make sense and always communicate the why behind the rules.  Open a conversation and get all the issues out in the open rather than letting the group stew in their confusion.

Have a good story about forbidden fruit?  Share it with us in the comments below!

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