Someone will quickly say, “Rules are meant to be broken.” If you’re a rebel, you may insist on breaking the rules. Do workplace rules make a difference for engagement or motivation?
It’s unlikely, standing alone, that they’ll make a significant change. In some cases, they may make things a little worse.
Many people operate with an assumption. The assumption is that if we don’t know the rules, or if there are not enough rules, people will become unruly.
Awareness matters, it is important, but being aware doesn’t necessarily change much.
Most U.S. drivers know there are posted speed limit signs. How many people drive only up to the limit or less?
It’s generally known that a high intake of sugar is not healthy. While not a rule, how many people disobey this concept?
People create rules for managing trash, the utilization of water, or about drinking and driving. Does everyone obey?
In the workplace, having rules, creating rules, or making people more aware of the rules may not be the way to a delightful and efficient space.
Do rules really matter?
Of course they matter. Are they the way to a better workplace climate? The best answer is, “Maybe.”
Have you ever heard the manager bark, “That’s against Company policy!”
Does it make a difference? It creates awareness. Will it change anything? Sure, it will make a difference for some, but for others, it may not matter all that much.
Unlike mice finding the cheese in a maze, or teaching your dog to sit and then receive a treat, people are driven by purpose.
Knowing the rules may be a good and necessary opening action, but then the rules will be best adhered to when people understand why.
We also can’t forget about things like organizational culture, group dynamics, and peer pressure.
Choosing to either follow, or ignore and break, will have much more at stake than the creation of the rule.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.