Rules, processes, limits – are they there just to make us mad?

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Last Updated on February 9, 2020 by Lucie Klabanová

(For czech version of the post click here.)

All “corporate rats” often complain: “There are some rules all the time, I can only do that, I have to fill in papers and have them approved…”

Rules, processes, limits. Spells of corporate workers.

But what if there are no rules in the company?

We are a small business, so why we should need rules and policies. We will always agree somehow.

Be justice and fair

Maybe. Until you choose a new car because of the expiring leasing contract and the boss will tell you it is too expensive because your previous one was cheaper.

Maybe it was (do you actually know how much was the previous one?). But why does a colleague positioned two hierarchical steps below you have a car 30% more expensive? Sure, you wish him the best, maybe there was some reason for an exception. But do you really find it fair? Deeply fair?

I am a person with perhaps an unusually high need for justice (since I was small), but anyway, I think that everyone of us has the need of fairness inside. People just don’t like injustice.

But things like the value of a car or the price of a lease are internal information, only two people in the company approve it, the others won’t know. Do you really think people won’t tell each other? That they do not notice what car a colleague is driving?

Is it freedom?

Or injustice?

The rules are for most people limiting, but at the same time create safe space. Even though they may complain about them and often murmur, they always know where they are. How far as they can go. And they know that this applies not only to them.

Therefore, if you ask why you should set up rules and write regulations in your small business, here are a few reasons:

  • Clear rules promote fairness
  • You can predict well in advance, for example, to calculate costs quite precisely.
  • You will avoid the annoying questions: “Why he and not me?”
  • If somebody is complaining, you still have a great argument that everybody has the same rules.

To use my favorite comparison of bringing up children. By letting children do what they want, without having any rules, they will test, push the boundaries. And at some point you will have to intervene. Then it will be much more difficult for you to explain why they have to do this now, when they didn’t have to before.

For example if you don’t set a specific time to go to bed for them. They will shift the time, test where you let them go. Up to the point when you will shout with fatigue, to make them finally go to bed. You will be upset that they are awake too long and they will be wrecked in the morning. At the same time they will not understand why they must go to bed when they could go yesterday only when they wanted to…

Also democratic companies have rules

And as far as the rules and processes themselves are concerned – why not doing  it like some democratic companies do. You don’t have to come and say: It will be like this. Make a brainstorming session with all concerned colleagues about the subject. Ask them how they would suggest to do it. First of all, you will probably be surprised that you will not get any exaggerated demands, on the contrary, you may get interesting ideas. And if it comes to something that you know is unrealistic, you just explain the reasons.

Open communication is what gives rules and processes real meaning. It turns the regulation into safe borders. And something unwanted becomes a desirable thing that makes everything clearer and more efficient.

I am a mentor, leader and pioneer of business process improvement. I help companies and individuals to find effective ways to achieve their goals. More about me you can find here>>

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