The path to adulthood and a professional career has plenty of rules — spoken and unspoken. From how to present yourself to when to show up for the workday, the workplace is full of must-dos.
But are some of these rules driving good employees away? And is there a better way to make people happy at work? These are topics LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on this week. Here’s what two of them had to say.
Liz Ryan, chief executive and founder at Human Workplace
“My dad put up with stupid corporate rules because his employer offered him a career path, job security forever and an awesome pension plan,” wrote Ryan in her post Ten Stupid Rules That Drive Great Employees Away. “All that stuff is history. Employers who keep Mad-Men-era policies in place will keep driving their best people away until they spot the connection between policies, passion, performance and profits. The more policies, the less passion you’ll get from your team.”
It might sound obvious, but Ryan points to 10 rules and policies that make people want to quit. Among them:
“Attendance policies. Salaried people don't need attendance policies. That's why they're on salary. If you're still dinging people for getting to work 10 minutes late when they commonly stay an hour late every day, you don't deserve them on your team,” wrote Ryan.
“Dress code rules. We write dress code policies because we'd die of embarrassment having to talk to an employee face-to-face about his or her excessively club-by or beach-y attire,” she wrote. “We're managers, and sticky human topics are part of the job. Get rid of the insultingly detailed dress code policy and simply remind your employees to dress for business.”
“Bell curve performance reviews. Performance reviews in general are a bureaucratic waste of time, but the ones that force managers to fit their teammates into pre-set slots on a Bell Curve are disgusting,” Ryan wrote. “If you truly don't trust your managers to hire wonderful employees, why did you make them managers? Bell curve performance reviews only encourage the hiring and retention of so-so employees, or worse.”
“Approvals for everything. We'd expect any employer to require approval from higher-ups before you're allowed to spend a lot of money or hire someone new. We'd expect some required approval before you launch a project or put someone on probation,” Ryan wrote. “Do we really need a manager's written approval for an employee to replace his ID badge? We have taken nearly all the latitude away from the talented adults we hire. More bureaucracy only slows us down.”
“Forced ranking. Forced ranking, sometimes call stack ranking, is a process of lining up your employees and comparing them to one another, best to worst. It's easily the stupidest idea corporate and institutional weenies have ever come up with,” Ryan argued. “You can't work for a company that treats like you like a two-by-four stacked up against other pieces of lumber. People are unique and whole in themselves.”
“Frequent flier policies. Business travel is a grind. It's not easy being on the road and leaving your life behind. Your employees earn every frequent-flyer mile their business travel entitles them to. Those miles are theirs, not their employer's,” wrote Ryan. “Any company stingy enough to steal its employees' frequent-flyer miles is not an employer that can grow your flame or take you to the next step on your path.”
“Why do companies install so many stupid rules and policies? Fear is the reason,” wrote Ryan. “Fearful managers don't trust themselves to hire people they could trust to do the right thing.”
John Neary, chief executive at CARite
How do you make sure employees are happy? It’s a complex topic and separates managers from leaders, wrote Neary in his post Key Concepts for Leaders Who Value Employee Happiness, Team members are content, he wrote, when they “truly believe they are contributing to something special, growing as a person and connecting with others in a meaningful way.”
How does this play out in practise in each area? Neary explained:
“I’m contributing. Your team should have a clear mission, ideally one that resonates with and inspires the entire group,” he wrote. “When people see that they play a clear role in building something special, they will respond accordingly. Happiness and purpose go hand in hand.”
“I’m growing. When people at all levels have opportunities to grow (either by formal training or simply by trying new things) they will respond positively,” Neary wrote. “Give those around you permission to make honest and smart mistakes as they try to grow professionally. Happiness and growth also go hand in hand.”
“I’m connecting. Trust in your leader is important. Trust within your team is just as important,” he wrote. “Great teams are made up of individuals who care for and support each other. They understand and trust the motives of their peers and they genuinely applaud each other's successes. People are simply happier when they feel part of a cohesive and trusted 'family'.”