Nowadays many businesses seem to struggle with achieving a proper balance between maintaining business rules and discipline while providing employees enough space for freedom and individual wishes. You must have seen those stories in magazines where CIO’s are pulling their hair off when people bring in their own iPhones and Blackberries. Some organizations are far too permissive, allowing their personnel to do virtually anything as they see fit. The problem in that is potential security risks. Other organizations are too strict, severely restricting their employees’ actions and behavior by forcing them to do things the way that does not fit them. Remote offices and home working has not made this situation any easier for organizations to maintain.
Here is a formula that claims: Business Rules + Relationships = Organizational Integrity
My years of experience in the business world have taught me this balance is crucial for a healthy, productive working environment. If you have business rules, but have very little in terms of relationship, you will likely experience rebellion by employees. If, on the other hand, you have placed a strong emphasis on relationships, but you do not have well-thought-out, established guidelines for everyday practices and behavior, you might experience chaos. Being able to balance the two provides assurance to your people that you care about them, yet at the same time expect them to produce results in keeping with your organization’s mission and values.
Business rules are there, setting the boundaries that organization should function in. Relationships are there maintaining people. It matters how you design your rules and how you explain to those employees who are looking to bend the rules. Another thing that should be kept in mind is that those rules should not be carved into stone. Business environments change fast and rules should change accordingly. There are many methods available for analyzing which business rules are still valid and you can even use BPMS systems to handle those rules which relate to IT systems in an organization.
The problem in your organization occurs when there is a confusion among employees as to what “to do right” means. As leaders, our responsibility is to communicate that clearly and effectively. Business and professional people look to their leaders to define the parameters under which they are expected to perform their jobs well. People should understand how those rules are related to organization’s mission and strategy and especially how those rules will help them to perform better.
Rules and guidelines, especially when created with valued input from the people who will be governed by them, should not be restrictive. They actually can be empowering, because the individuals understand they are free to use their talents and abilities within those limits. Without those rules, employees can become confused by fear of doing something wrong. Clear rules and clearly maintained relationships will lead to better organizational integrity.
Establishing rules just for the sake of controlling people can be demoralizing, so guidelines must be used as a means for enhancing the productivity – and satisfaction – of people in your organization. Strong, effective leaders know how to balance compassion and discipline. Are you such a leader?
Here are some reflective questions that you can ask:
- What gets the strongest emphasis where you work – rules or relationships? Explain how you see this being demonstrated on a day-to-day basis.
- How do you think a leader can go about seeking this balance between rules and relationships? Is that even practical to attempt this, in your opinion? Why or why not?
- Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were not certain what the rules were that governed your actions or the plans you were formulating? If so, how did you feel about that circumstance – and what was the outcome?
- Are business rules in your organization up-to-date?
- Do people in your organization understand how those rules help them to do their work better?
- Are those business rules thought out also from customer perspective? How your business rules affect customer?