If you work at a company with more than a few dozen employees, there are bound to be rules and norms everyone is expected to follow.
But what when the rules go too far — or when cultural norms mean underperformers stay in place for far too long? Several LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on these topics this week. Here’s what two of them had to say.
Travis Bradberry, President at TalentSmart
“Companies need to have rules,” wrote Bradberry in his post Nine Idiotic Office Rules That Drive Everyone Insane. “But they don’t have to be short-sighted and lazy attempts at creating order.”
As his own company has grown, Bradberry has been tempted to respond to out-of-line behaviour with broad rules that apply to everyone. “But that’s where most companies blow it,” he wrote.
“In just about every instance, upon closer inspection, we realised that establishing a new rule would be a passive and morale-killing way to address the problem,” Bradberry wrote. “When companies create ridiculous and demoralising rules to halt the outlandish behaviour of a few individuals, it’s a management problem.”
So what are the worst rules that companies have come up with—the ones that drive employees bonkers? Bradberry offers nine big ones. Among them:
“Restricting internet use. There are certain sites that no one should be visiting at work, and I’m not talking about Facebook. But once you block pornography and the other obvious stuff, it’s a difficult and arbitrary process deciding where to draw the line,” he wrote. “People should be able to kill time on the internet during breaks. When companies unnecessarily restrict people’s internet activity, it does more than demoralise” staffers. It could also make it harder to do their job.
“Ridiculous requirements for attendance, leave and time off. People are salaried for the work they do, not the specific hours they sit at their desks. When you ding salaried employees for showing up five minutes late even though they routinely stay late and put in time on the weekend, you send the message that policies take precedence over performance. It reeks of distrust,” he wrote.
“Stealing employees’ frequent-flier miles. If there’s one thing that road-weary travelling employees earn, it’s their frequent flier miles. When employers don’t let people keep their miles for personal use, it’s a greedy move that fuels resentment with every flight,” Bradberry wrote. “Work travel is a major sacrifice of time, energy, and sanity. Taking employees’ miles sends the message that you don’t appreciate their sacrifice and that you’ll hold on to every last dollar at their expense.”
“Bell curves and forced rankings of performance. When you force employees to fit into a pre-determined ranking system, you… incorrectly evaluate people’s performance, make everyone feel like a number and create insecurity and dissatisfaction when performing employees fear that they’ll be fired due to the forced system,” he wrote. “This is yet another example of a lazy policy that avoids the hard and necessary work of evaluating each individual objectively, based on his or her merits.”
Hunter Walk, Partner at Homebrew VC
Firing someone is never easy. Many companies, especially start-ups, are slow to fire underperformers, wrote Walk in his post Five Excuses CEOs Give for Not Getting Rid of Low Performers. “There are a consistent set of false rationales I hear from founders as to why they haven’t addressed a low-performing team member.”
And, he wrote, you should avoid them. Among them:
“We’ve got so much to do and they’re contributing something. Yes, they might not be a total zero. It’s not like they come to work, put their feet on the desk and eat crackers for 10 hours, but their underperformance is still a net negative,” Walk wrote. “It usually creates work for the rest of your team to assist or fix their issues.”
“The team really likes them and I don’t want to risk our culture. No, you’re risking your culture by keeping them. Their teammates invariably know they’re an under-performer and wondering why you won’t address it. Each day you delay is both an opportunity for the contagion to spread or for your team to flee,” he wrote.
“It’s my fault and a better CEO would coach them up. You should be spending time inspiring your highest performers and helping to bring more talent into the startup,” Walk advised. “Are there things you did incorrectly during the hiring or on-boarding process which contributed to this? Maybe, but distill those learnings from a post-mortem, don’t compound the errors by delaying.”