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Enforcing Company Policies

Enforcing Company Policies

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I recently started managing a department of approximately 15-20 people. I have found that there are a lot of rules and procedures in place but most are not being enforced. Obviously I’ve started to have all of these rules enforced or adjusted so what we are telling people to do matches what our written policies state.

The problem comes up regarding rules that are “company” rules but almost all departments don’t follow them. (The rules not being enforced by other departments are things such as start times, breaks, accurate time sheets. You know, stuff that there is no reason not to enforce.)

My opinion is that I can only be responsible for the departments I’m in charge of and I need to enforce the rules as written. Part of me, however, asks why is it fair to enforce rules on my department that are obviously not being enforced by other departments. When employees point the blatant inequality in enforcing these rules, what is a good response other than the one I’ve been using: “I have no control over the management of the other departments, all I can do is fairly enforce the rules as written for the people in my department.”

I don’t know enough about your business to state this definitively, but it’s quite possible that you’d be a more effective manager if you were flexible on things like start times and breaks. (Not time sheets though; those need to be accurate.) For instance, if you have an employee who routinely works late and interrupts her weekend to handle work-related demands, do you really want to give her a hard time about being 15 minutes late? Answer: No, you probably don’t, or you’ll end up with employees who either (a) won’t give you a minute more than they’re scheduled for or (b) will leave and go somewhere that treats them like adults.

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