Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,649 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on

If You Are the Boss, You Make the Rules

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | May 15, 2010

Obviously, business owners and executives are supposed to make the rules. One of the hallmarks of a bad manager is a lack of knowledge of how to effectively make and apply rules. Here are some rules for making charitable, effective rules!

  • Decisions should never be made in a “frustrated moment”. Good rules are well considered.
  • Don’t make a rule if you (1) don’t have the ability to enforce it, or (2) don’t have the desire to enforce it. Rules have to have teeth.
  • Rules must be made for a particular goal, not because of personal preferences. For example, if you want your employees to wear green shirts because you like the color green... bad rule. If you want employees to wear green shirts because your primary customers are women and studies show that women feel welcomed, safe, and growth-oriented when they see green... good rule.
  • Generally speaking, your staff must be your employees first and your friends second. If you have an employee that is consistently breaking the rules because they believe they are your friend, and hence the rules don’t apply to them... politely but firmly redefine the relationship.
  • Some rules will be vital to the success of your company, others will not. Know the difference.
  • Always have a central repository (a wiki, or whatever) that contains all rules in writing. Email should never be the sole location for referencing a rule.
  • Be worthy of your employees’ respect.
Making and applying good rules is particularly difficult when you are making the transition into management, particularly if your former coworkers are now your employees. Here are some tips for effectively making that transition. (These rules are applicable to all managers, but particularly to those in transition.)
  • Keep a good sense of humor. You may be tested a little bit, and your ability to respond with good humor (while being firm) will be very important.
  • Make sure that your “leadership communication” is clearly distinguishable from your “friend/coworker” communication. For example, do not send a single email with both administrative information and social comment. Send separate messages.
  • Rules are best made verbally, to the entire group, and then reinforced in writing.
  • When announcing a rule, do it in this way: state the challenge/problem; quantify the negative impact of the challenge/problem; state the rule; quantify the benefits of the rule; thank your staff in advance for applying the rule diligently; ask if anyone has questions; answer questions; thank staff again.
  • Make eye contact when you are having rules-related conversations with your staff.

I hope these ideas will aid in your ability to be effective in your leadership role!

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($124,738 to go):
$150,000.00 $25,262.05
83% 17%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 17, 2010 11:18 PM ET USA

    Rather, if you are the boss, you ARE the rule..., "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." The Incarnation demands that we "be" before we say... J Plick Nursing Supervisor

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Church Moves On, Slowly October 24
Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? October 24
The Pope is not the problem October 23
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. October 23
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6