Are You Killing Productivity in Your Company?

big rule book

How many pages are in your company rule book?  Are there too many to remember? Unfortunately, most organizations are not lacking in rules, regulations and policies. While rules around safety and security are there for a reason, most other rules typically are  a response to the behavior of a single employee who once crossed a line or our litigious society and a need to CYA for everything. 

This is where we, as bosses and entrepreneurs, have a tendency to blow it. Rules and policies that employees consider unnecessary thwart feelings of engagement. For example, if employees need to get permission to use office funds to buy donuts for your Tuesday morning office meeting, they will feel that they are not trusted to use their best judgment and will feel micromanaged. . 

Too many rules and red tape will reduce efficiencies in your once nimble entrepreneurial operation.  Your people may begin to feel isolated, resulting in less collaboration-and less fun! And let’s be honest, how many times throughout your career did you feel the need to bend a few rules because it was the only way to get the job done? When your team struggles to do their work without bending (or even breaking) a few rules-there is little chance your employees will respect your company rules and every chance they will ignore them. Any rule that is seen as clearly ridiculous (and we have all experienced that!) encourages rule-breaking; and any rule seen as unfair, or processes with unnecessary checkpoints, lead to general resentment and even willful disobedience.

Early on when I took the helm at Orchard Corset, our team quickly grew. The owner and I began to create many rules and policies because we were worried about how to “manage our people” and make sure our team was doing what was expected. Jim Collins writes that the moment you feel like you have to manage someone, you have made a hiring mistake. We eventually (thankfully) realized we were making rules for the 2%. The two percent of people who didn’t share our work ethic or core values (which were not well-defined at that time). Fortunately for us (and our team) we realized the error of our ways and course-corrected. 

Now, when I implement EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), I coach my clients to have a handful of rules, 3-5 not 23 or 118. We call them Core Values and decisions are filtered through these (safety and security rules have their own place). If your people have clearly defined roles, measurables and are clear on the company vision and plan-turn them loose to do what you hired them for. Nickel and diming your people to death with a minutia of rules and regulations will not only clog up your machine, but will also demoralize your people and their productivity will decline.  Strike a balance between rules to keep your people and customers safe and secure, while allowing your team to thrive and grow. When you have the Right People in Right Seats, you won’t need to micromanage with cumbersome rules and procedures. 

Examine your rule book. Do you have rules that you created out of fear for the 2%? If so, those rules are costing you more in lost productivity, employee engagement and increased turnover than those rules are saving you.



  • Pam Williams ,

    I like this one!

    • Cheri Kuhn ,

      The lessons we learn….:)

  • Pam Williams ,

    This is great!

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