• Tony Richards

How You Enforce Rules Sets The Tone For Your Company Culture


Leaders and people of authority in an organization set the parameters for the company culture and atmospheric feel.

No matter how open, accepting or creative you want your work climate to be, at some point or another you will have to be the one who puts authority and enforcement behind some rules. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just did what was right and acceptable for the betterment of the company all the time? Sure, it would, but that’s not being very realistic.

Here are a few ways to enforce your rules and non-negotiable when you are called up to do so.

  1. Start with what is good and right. Everyone has things they do right and perform well. Your approach to this will probably need to vary your approach, as you don’t want the employee to just sit and wait for the negative improvement-oriented things you are about to say. Leading with good stuff in various ways is a good way to start this conversation.

  2. Explain your reasons you need to see improvement. Even though the issues may seem like common sense to you, there are reasons you have been elevated in your position and they have not been. At least not yet. So, you need to offer a helping hand of understanding to them about why the issues are important both to you and the organization.

  3. Appeal to their self-interest. Show them how adhering to the rules will further their career and help them in the long run. Be careful not to explain this from your point of view but to try and get into their viewpoints. The best way to do this is to ask them questions about the benefits and consequences of continuing their current action verse making an adjustment. What will serve them best?

  4. Don’t leave the meeting without clarity. People can’t thrive in confusion. When you are trying to chart the clear course, expect a lot of questions to be asked. If you don’t get some questions, you either have done a great job, you are getting begrudging compliance, or they just don’t understand. Getting understanding, agreement and alignment is the ultimate trifecta in this interaction.

Set up the playing field for the employee so they know where the boundaries clearly are.

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Let them know how much flexibility they have and where the lines are that cannot be crossed without communication and authorization. Ultimately, what you allow and do not allow and how it’s communicated partially sets the tone for your company culture.

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