Trust vs Policy: The Five Rules

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“Most policies are put in place to keep smart people from making good decisions.”

–     A fundamental belief of mine

I hate rules.  As near as I can figure there are ten that really matter, and they got carried down off a mountain a few thousand years ago.

And, for clarity, the quote above is not an absolute, one-size-fits-all belief, it’s a general commentary on business.

The book The Speed of Trust; The One Thing That Changes Everything by Stephen M. R. Covey captures it really well and from almost every angle.  One of my favorites though, is a quote from Gordon Forward, CEO of Chaparral Steel:

“We don’t have policies.  What we started with essentially were some very basic ideas.  First, we decided that…trust and honesty were going to play a big role…  a lot of the procedures in many organizations were designed to catch the 3 percent who were trying to cheat in one way or another.  We decided to design our rules for the 97 percent we can trust.  The others would stand out like sore thumbs, we figured and they’d eventually leave.  That’s exactly what happened.”

Man, is that beautifully simplistic!  Build systems, procedures and policies that honor the kind of people we should be hiring and developing in the first place!  Fewer rules, more trust.  Fewer sticks, more carrots.

As for rules, the aforementioned ten stand as noted.  In the workplace, I’ve settled on The Heston Five.

  1. Be reliable.  Show up on time, ready to work, every day.
  2. Be positive.  On our worst day, there are 10,000,000 people who’d trade places with us for every one that wouldn’t.
  3. Treat the company’s resources as if they were your own.  (They essentially are, after all…)
  4. Be honest.  There is no mistake so big it can’t be addressed, yet there is no lie so small that it can be forgiven.
  5. Let’s don’t do stupid stuff!  (This one is a good indicator as to whether my leadership teams have come together.  When we start ribbing each other about “Rule 5 Violations,” with laughter, I know we’re in a good spot together!)

The point remains.  Designing our operations based on trusting the people we hire and spend each day with makes for a happier life and a better client / customer experience, employee retention and a workaday life that is energizing and profitably productive.

 

 


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Trackbacks

  1. […] Yesterday, we touched on rules — having as few as possible, and trusting people to make a difference.  But how? […]

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