Should all rules be enforced equally?

As a manager, do you enforce all rules on all people equally?

While many people would like to say yes, the reality is most of us have to look at each situation separately

An example would be punctuality. If your organization has a rule that everyone starts work at 9 AM, are there ever acceptable exceptions? The “drill Sargent” type might feel no exceptions are acceptable, however. it might be worth looking into the reasons before enforcing the rules. If an employee is regularly on time and shows up 30 minutes late, rather than screaming at the employee, it makes sense to find out the reason. If the reason for them being late is they worked 5 hours of overtime the night before trying to finish a project, it might elicit a different response than if they were out drinking the night before and were too hungover to get there on time.

I remember having this type of a conversation a number of years ago when I was coaching youth soccer down in the Atlanta area. A coach was telling me that if a player misses a practice, they are not allowed to play the next game, NO EXCEPTIONS! While this coach felt this was a reasonable rule to have and enforce at that very moment I had a player who was going to miss two practices. If I had been this other coach, I would have not played this player due to the rules. However, the reason he was missing the two practices is he was off playing on a US youth national team. Should he have been punished for representing the nation in a soccer match? In my mind, it was a no brainer and is a good reason why you must look at each situation separately

The other thing to take into consideration when dealing with the enforcement of rules is it’s a LOT easier to lighten up on your enforcement than it is to tighten up. I would rather be strict early until the group earned my trust and then possibly lighten up a bit on enforcement than to start off lenient and then try to tighten up later.

Start strict, lighten up later, if necessary and consider each case separately and in the long run, your organization will appreciate your choices.

Have a great day!


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