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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!

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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

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