Jul 05 2013

Over the last few weeks there have been several incidents brought to my attention where people have disregarded certain rules & standards that exist. The interesting thing is that the people who disregarded the rules, were the same people who are meant to enforce them – the managers. While I believe, and many do, that all should be part of the “enforcement gang”, managers and leaders should be setting the example and enforcing all rules clearly, routinely & without prejudice.

There should be no cases of leaders deciding that the rules are OK to be bent or broken if they are with a VIP or the cause for the indiscretion is “urgent” to the business (i.e. a phone call in an area where phones are not allowed). We’ve all seen it on the roads, in the hospitals, and various other public spaces where there are clear rules, standards & expectations for how we behave & what we do.

Someone thinks they are “above the law” or that the rules do not apply to them (photo believed to be a fake?). One of the difficulties is that we can often see that the rule is possibly a bit more restrictive than is absolutely necessary, or that if we do certain things such as “be careful” then we can ensure the risk that the rule is meant to avoid is not present. The problem with this is not whether or not we put ourselves at risk, or whether the danger is there to the business.

The problem lies with the message this sends to the troops, the front line staff. It says “Do as I say, not as I do”. That is one of the fastest ways to lose the respect of your people. Sure, you will retain authority, and they will do what you tell them, but only when you tell them & only when you are looking. True discipline is doing the right things when nobody is looking. if people cut corners, disregard simple standards that are easy to follow & can be easily observed; what do they do with those more difficult rules, the ones that are hard to observe, the ones that could potentially cause the most damage to the business.

Consistency is difficult, even for me. Setting the standard means every day, all day, regardless of who you are with & what the circumstances of the day are. The next time you are considering “bending” the rules for a VIP, for an “urgent” call or an “important” meeting with a big client; remember the message it sends to the people who actually add value to your business…remember the damage that can be done by a single stupid act…and yes, they are watching you!

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