Stick to the rules

What do you do if someone breaks the rules?  Discipline them?  Perhaps, but you can’t go down this route unless you expect to carry it through which means ultimately, the threat of dismissal.  People who break the rules should expect the threat of the sack.

That may be fine if it is something big, such as defrauding the company or a significant breach of health and safety that puts people’s lives in danger.  But what if it is only a little rule, minor indiscretion, or a brief period of carelessness?  What if it is a silly rule that nobody follows anyway?

But rules are rules. Yet rules are made to be broken.  Show me one person who does not break one rule or another every day.  Even unwittingly, most of us a break the law on a daily basis.  There are so many laws on the statute that are out dated and meaningless.  There are always new rules to be made that we rarely go back and review them.

What do you do with a manager of staff who do not follow the rules? Discipline them?  In a hierarchical organization all people are managed by others. Every manager has responsibility for other people.  Their failures must be accounted for.  But supervisors have managers and managers have directors and directors have a chief executive.  Accountability flows up and down the chain.  If one is guilty then all must accept the burden.  Discipline the lot of us.  Get rid of us all.

Surely the punishment must fit the crime.  All of us pick and choose those rules we wish to follow.  All of us pretend to follow slavishly those we are interested in and ignore those we are not.  This is what it is to be human.  We are not machines.

When you deal with humans, apart from death and taxes, there are no absolutes.  There must be a point with any rule where the returns diminish.  There comes a point where to get everyone to comply is just not worth the effort.  Invoking the organisation’s disciplinary processes is not the answer.

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