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Are there Too Many Rules in Your Organization?

What experts say are stupid rules and how they're hurting your company's performance

Rules in the workplace are necessary, there is no questioning that. It is what sets standards, keeps people on the same page, and allows for performance measurement. Many rules are even government regulated, so there is no arguing that they have to exist. Arguably, looking past those mandatory policies, some companies can go too far with their staff manual. In these situations, leaders remove practicality, become micromanagers, and overlook the idea of common sense.

Examples of Stupid Rules

If you're suddenly concerned that you fall into the category of having too many rules, check out the 10 stupid rules that Liz Ryan claims drive great employees away in her LinkedIn post:

  1. Attendance Policies (dinging salaried employees for being 10 minutes late, when they stayed an hour late two days ago)

  2. Frequent Flyer Policies (not allowing employees to keep rewards for themselves when travelling for business)

  3. Dress Code (going into detail about every little item)

  4. Bell Curve Performance Reviews (Ryan claims these only result in the retention of so-so employees)

  5. Bereavement-Leave Policies (requiring a funeral notice to have a few days of paid leave)

  6. Approvals for Everything (requiring approval for simple things, like order a new stapler)

  7. Disciplinary Rules (what do probation or written warnings really do?)

  8. Feedback Mechanisms (asking people to complete a survey, rather than talking face-to-face)

  9. Hiring Processes (failing to write normal job descriptions, value applicants, and make the process fast and friendly)

  10. Forced Ranking (comparing employees to one another - Best to Worst)

What's the Problem with Too Many Rules at Work?

What are the problems with too many rules and policies at work? In this Huffington Post article, Kevin Kruse outlines these:

  • Rules Take Away Choices

  • Rules Target the Few at the Expense of the Majority

  • Rules Focus on Activity instead of Outcomes

Throughout the article, Kruse quotes specific experiences that people have had as examples of where he says rules can hinder the organization.

Too Many Rules Can Kill Productivity

Finally, if you're still not convinced that over-regulating can be a problem, consider that your productivity can also go downhill. Just ask Meghan Biro, who in her recent Huffington Post article listed these Secret Productivity Killers.

  • Poor Employee Engagement

  • Lack of Efficiency

  • Less Collaboration -- and less fun

  • Loss of Business

  • Time-Consuming Processes and Procedures

After reading these opinions from credible sources, reflect on your own organization. Do you have too many rules, policies and procedures? It's easy to get there and, unfortunately, the results can be harmful.