Brave Magazine

Rules for Enforcing Rules, at Home and at Work

This post is adapted from the “Publisher’s Blog” feature of the Fall & Winter 2019 Issue of BRAVE Magazine. Subscribe to the bi-annual publication here.

It is not easy to be the rule enforcer at home or at work. The answers of how, when, and what actions should be taken, will be lessened by following these simple and straightforward rules.

It is a manager’s job (and often the hardest part of their job), to enforce company policy. So, here’s how to ‘man up’ (or ‘mom up’). Remember two things: practice makes perfect and don’t procrastinate.

With that said, I never act on the first complaint. When and if complaints continue and come from multiple sources, only then will I begin to listen.

Once the issue is validated, I’ll casually mention it to the offender, along with a suggested solution. If the problem continues, I mention it again, take responsibility for maybe not explaining myself well enough the first time, then ask, “Do you understand?” Be sure to end the conversation with, “this is your last verbal warning, the next one will be written.”

This sequence of conversation is important for two reasons: 1) Fairness comes from clear communication. It’s unfair to the employee (or child) not to be informed, and 2) they need to know the consequences of not following instructions.

If you have a serial rule breaker in your company who won’t heed the verbal warnings, you must follow through with the repercussions you have stated. Alignment between your words and actions is the most powerful tool a manager/mom has.

Because you have been clear about what the next step would be, it will be no surprise when you call the offender into your office.

Step 1 – Praise them for what they do right. Give encouragement for the future.

Step 2 – Identify the problem. Reference the earlier conversations and show them a piece of paper you have prepared with the date of the first and second conversation noted and a brief description of the action you had expected. (This does not have to be formal. I often hand write this form during the meeting with memory help from the employee.)

Step 3– Brainstorm a solution. This is when you stop talking and let the offender have a voice and possibly create their own solution. If it’s their idea, the implementation is more likely to be successful.

Step 4—Recap the meeting. Write the collaborative solution in a short, easy-to-understand sentence. Have everyone present sign, then make copies and distribute to all attending the meeting.

If over the next month things don’t improve, call another meeting.  Review the signed document from the previous meeting. There are only 2 outcomes.

  1. Often, this is when the employee realizes they are not a good fit for the company/job, thanks you for everything and gives notice.
  2. Or they’re still unclear of what is expected. If this is the case, edit the paper, again sign and be sure to write on the newly formed contract that the next step MAY RESULT IN THEIR TERMINATION. And sometimes that happens.

PS. For managing a family modify the steps above. Since you can’t fire your children, though you may wish to, make the consequences easily attainable because alignment between your words and action are imperative. And remember the ‘fairness rules” from above; clear communication and understanding of consequences. My final advice: Be Brave and Keep it Up.

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