Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken! If you are in the role of managing others, then you have been faced with the challenge of having to set boundaries, rules or guidelines in your organization.
For many, it is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. Something we just don’t like to do. We don’t want to be the heavy handed manager…the mean guy…the tyrant boss. We want our employees to like us, but we often hear from our clients things like, “why do I need to have to tell them this, shouldn’t they just know it”, or something like “it’s like they just don’t care” when there are no boundaries put in place.
So where is the balance?
Most managers or business owners want to create workplaces where there is a feeling of “team”, where everyone is pulling together, enjoying what they are doing and feeling successful. We have all had an experience where we were part of such a group, whether it was in your organization, in a group you belonged to or even within your own family. It feels great to be productive.
It is in experiencing such a time for yourself personally, as a leader, knows the power that is unleashed, if you are able to create this in your own team. So now the question is, do boundaries, rules or guidelines help or hinder this process?
The answer to this question…they can do both but it depends from the mindset from which they are created.
For example, if you think about traffic laws. Without them it would be utter chaos on the road. Everyone would literally be driving their own agenda and chances are, would likely not get very far without an accident or traffic jam. Without them, we would have to anticipate what everyone else might do and no matter how good a mind reader you are, chances are you would zig when you should have zagged. In this case, they are rules and boundaries are useful, because they define the parameters from which to operate.
On the other hand, too many rules stop up the flow. For example, if every time you need to do something you have to get permission, then there is a lot of time wasted, simply waiting. If every time you decided to go to the store, you have to file a “driving” plan with the boss to make sure you took the correct route then, likely you would stop going to the store.
So how do you make sure you are in the right mindset in making them?
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when you are determining whether a guideline or rule will help you and your team:
- Is this required in order to ensure the safety of my assets, my employees or the people we serve?
- Is this required in order to ensure the value or quality of our product or service?
- Is this required by law or through regulation?
- Is this required to ensure the smooth transition of work between people or groups and will it be consistently enforced?
If you answer yes to these questions, then chances are putting in place a rule or guideline would help your group. If you answer no, then before you put a rule or guideline in place, it is time for a discussion with your team.
Teams learn to perform by being able to discuss the challenges they are facing and by being able to create solutions that work for everyone. Managers or business owners who have the skills to engage their people in developing solutions focused on the bigger goal, ultimately create a high performing team, without hiding behind a set of rules.