Why Leaning on Policies Can Signal Trouble in the Workplace
In my experience, the overemphasis on policies and laws in the workplace is often a warning sign of deeper leadership and cultural issues.
The Defensive Use of Policies
Referencing policies or legal standards as the main form of communication or decision-making tool can be seen as a defensive or aggressive tactic. This approach undermines genuine interaction and prioritises the bare minimum over a positive, collaborative work environment.
Our Pole Vaulter vs. Limbo Dancer Analogy
One of our previous blogs discussed the concept of being a 'pole vaulter' rather than a 'limbo dancer' in the workplace, emphasising that policies and laws should be the starting point, not the ultimate goal. Relying on these minimum standards hinders the potential for greater understanding and cooperation.
Warning Signs of Over-Reliance on Policies
🚨 Referring to Contract Clauses: Emphasising specific contract terms is often a sign of a defensive work culture.
🚨 Quoting Case Law: Using legal terms or precedents in routine workplace decisions points to a reluctance in trust-based management.
🚨 Using Legal Terms: Phrases like “reasonable requests” or “in line with policy” can indicate an overly formal and rigid environment.
🚨 Frequent Policy Updates: Constant changes to policies might signal a desire to control employee behaviours through formal structures.
🚨 Policy Cascades by Email: Relying on written communications without interaction often indicates a lack of confidence in effective dialogue and the ability to anwer adhoc questions.
🚨 Policy Over Personal Judgment: Preferring policy to personal judgment or empathy shows a disconnection from a more engaged culture.
🚨 Employee Complaints about Rigidity: Regular complaints about inflexibility or 'red tape' suggest an overemphasis on policy.
🚨 Policy Reminders and Consequences on Notice Boards or Posters: The prominent display of policy reminders and potential consequences can create an atmosphere of fear and compliance, rather than understanding and cooperation.
The Problem with a Policy-First Approach
Relying primarily on policies leads to a work-to-rule situation, stifling creativity and engagement. This often reflects a deeper issue with leadership in handling workplace disputes and conversations.
Our Solution: Join Our Revolution to Resolution
We train leaders to handle difficult conversations with confidence and empathy - something often skipped by many organisations. This promotes a culture of open communication, moving beyond a defensive stance to create a more positive workplace. It drives leadership accountability, enhances the role of HR professionals and drives overall productivity.