Why Do Companies Default To Using Policies As Weapons

Full Transcript Below

[ANNOUNCER]: Breaking down everyday workplace issues and diagnosing the hidden sickness, not just the obvious symptom, our hosts, James and Coby.


[COBY]: Did we lose a patient?


[JAMES]: No, that’s just my lunch.


[COBY]: Hey, thanks for joining us. I’m Coby. He’s James. So let’s get started with a question. Why do companies default to using policies as weapons?


[JAMES]: So I love this question because we actually hear this one come up a lot in training whenever we’re talking about, especially our Compliance level of the Hierarchy where we’re talking about the factors of the workplace and that policies are one of those factors and how a company implements policies has a significant impact on whether or not there’s job dissatisfaction in the workplace. But first, I think it’s important to talk, what are we talking about in terms of what do we mean when we say using policies as weapons? And I think there’s really kind of two different camps, there are some policies that are just they are designed to be highly invasive and highly restrictive, right? We have mentioned several times about how like things like keylogging software is in my view, a garbage idea that never should have been implemented in the workplace at all because it’s a highly invasive way of using a policy to monitor employees. But there are also good intended policies that in the hands of a manager who may not be necessarily confident in their abilities or secure in how they manage, they can use these well intended policies as a bludgeon to beat people into submission. And the simple answer to why do companies default to using policies as weapons is because it’s easy, right? We default to what is easy, we don’t default to what is right? And I think that’s the biggest, I think that’s one of the biggest influences is because it’s more difficult to create really good policies that inspire people rather than just say, OK, nope, this is what we’re doing. Everybody’s gonna be subject to it and it’s end of discussion regardless of how invasive or restrictive that may be.


[COBY]: Yeah. No, there is a lot of situations where the blanket statement policies are brought in and they’re usually brought in to be as a very reactive response to something that happened. And I think that both the kind of two types of policies that you mentioned, the highly evasive and restrictive ones by design and the ones that get twisted or the or the good or the good intended policies that get twisted are usually kind of usually in a reactive response to something that, you know, that is a concern or is or something that actually happened and they had to respond. So they kind of created these blanket statement pieces. And I think that, that, that we’ll kind of dig into what that looks like and kind of how that plays out in a minute. But I think it’s also important for us to not forget that we are, that the way policies are, like I’m saying, policies and air quotes are often thought of used or kind of present in the workplace can look a bit different because like we are, you know, a lot of the work that we do when we talk about the Workplace Culture Hierarchy and the Compliance stage of and reviewing policies and the, you know, the policy matrices tools that we have when we do policy assessments, those are often referring to the official rules, the written policies that exist in the manuals. And that is important to invest in because those are kind of the ones that are there and, and present for everybody. But it’s also important to realize that when we say policies, we’re also need to keep in mind sometimes it’s more about overtly stated rules that might not be written down that there are a lot of these rules that exist in workplaces that are not necessarily official rules written in manuals but are still the law of the land. And I think that as we talk about using policies as weapons. I think it’s important for people listening to understand that we mean the official rule, but we’re also not excluding the overtly stated unofficial rules that managers may use a lot but are not really written down. So it’s important to kind of keep both of them in mind as we kind of go through this conversation.


[JAMES]: Well, and there are a lot of directives that will come top down that are not written in official policy statements, right? And that’s really the difference that we’re talking about. You will have written administrative and HR I’m hoping that you will have it written administrative and HR policies, right, clearly defined, written enshrined, they are carved in stone. Then there are just a lot of norms, there are a lot of OK. A decision has been made at the top and it’s pushed down and it’s referred to it. This is the new policy even though it’s not in a policy format. So you’re right, we do need to be clear that we are talking about not merely not just the administrative and HR policies, but what are those blanket decisions or policies or preferences that are pushed down through the organization?


[COBY]: Yeah, because like there are a lot of, you know, small businesses and, and nonprofits that operate with unofficial policy manuals, they have frameworks and guidelines and statements and stuff like that, which are definitely not as like as clear cut as what as what politics should be, but they often operate with this. But so just to kind of just tie a bow around this, this one piece that we are talking about, about weaponizing policies. We’re talking weaponizing rules statements, official directives from leadership is really what we’re getting at. And I think that this is a great aspect for us to dig into around what we talked about a lot last season around the Fragile Grip Principle. So just as a reminder, the Fragile Grip Principle is how companies handle the fragile relationship that they have with their employees. And there’s three Grips, there’s The Harsh Grip which is they usually use their control to kind of crush and squeeze the life out of employees.


[JAMES]: Which where this Yeah, right here, weapon, weaponizing policies, Harsh Grip. Yeah,


[COBY]: Absolutely. we’ll come back to that but then the other two is The Weak Grip where they used, where they don’t support or, or so they don’t hold on to that relationship, the fragile relationship well enough that they end up falling apart, which looks like people are being laid off for kind of the, the whole quiet firing type of approach too.Then there’s also the, the third one, which is the supportive grip, which is when you actually care for and look for, look for the long term mutual benefit that comes with this protected relationship and that’s kind of so a bit of a spoiler, we’re gonna talk really heavily about The Harsh Grip and kind of digging into The Harsh Grip side of it. But when we, when we eventually get to, how can we fix this or what can we do to, to address this? We’re gonna be looking at some of the aspects from the supportive grip. So just kind of that’s where we’re gonna end up going. I think it’s important for us to look at it again from that because The Harsh Grip concept really does kind of come from this need to to dominate or this need to try to press employees squeeze them and, and almost like wring every amount of productivity possible out of them because that’s how we feel the need to be led.


[JAMES]: Yeah, and it’s not just like it’s so it’s not just about productivity. So I was, I had to go clothes shopping a few months ago, needed to get some new jeans. So I went to a large well known national retailer and the most like it blew my mind. It was fairly busy. One person on cash. There was another person kind of waiting at the door. Finally when I got up to the cash, the person who was there had to ask me to wait while they went and had to inspect the bag of the employee whose shift had finished so that they would be allowed to leave when they came back. I was talking with the manager because I obviously watched all of this happen. And I can’t, well, I can’t keep my mouth shut. If you’ve been listening to us at all, this is not gonna be a surprise to you. Don’t like, seriously though, I saw this. I’m like, ok, what just happened is cannot be what I think just happened. So I was talking with the manager briefly while she was bringing my stuff up. And yeah, they, she had to ask a customer to wait during, while they are, while the store was busy so that she could go and inspect the bag of the employee whose shift had ended so that they would be allowed to leave. This retailer has, I’m guaranteeing you it’s not actually written down in official administrative or HR policies because that would be dumb. but they have a policy that no employee is allowed to leave the building before a manager inspects their bag. That is a weaponized policy. Absolutely. And it, well, it’s invasive. It’s restrictive. It is designed to control people. And the more I’ve been sitting on this for a while, I mean, I, I ranted to you about it, immediately after it happened, because I just, I, I couldn’t believe that. Well, I can, unfortunately, I can believe that it happened but it was to see it in the wild was interesting. but it stems from, I understand, logically, the organization’s thought process, right. You know, likely they have had a higher level of theft happening in the workplace. They probably had some reason to suspect that, employees in one or more of their locations were in, there was an increase in employee shoplifting. That’s probably the rationale behind it. So they put a policy in place to say, ok, before an employee is allowed to leave, a manager has to inspect their bag. Logically, that makes sense all. But what it does in the workplace is it creates this environment where managers have to be the bad guy, right? They have to inspect employees bags. You’re treating all employees like they are criminals, right? You’re, you’re treating them like children and criminals that they are not responsible enough to behave in a professional manner and that you have to inspect their bag because they might be because obviously all employee, if one employee does it, all employees are going to steal from you, right?


[COBY]: And so this kind of goes to the first name that we call weaponizing policies is we call this the Weapons of Control and it really is just that it is we need to control the, the actions and the time usage or the freedom that employees have like leaving without being inspected. is a freedom that they can’t be trusted with. So we need to control that. Another example of the kind of Weapons of Control is, we’ve seen or we’ve, I’ve actually, I’ve read, some articles about the kind of the increased use of uncomfortable toilet seats being incorporated into some places like into, manufacturing businesses or retail businesses as a way to avoid having longer breaks, making, you know, going to the bathroom as uncomfortable as possible as a way to controlling, staff’s time management. And these are, let’s be clear, these are bad things. Yes. And it’s something that, but, but they are clear policies, decisions, rules made as Weapons of Control.


[JAMES]: Yeah. Well, the problem, I think a lot of the problem, I like to believe that a lot of these things are done. Probably not with good intentions, but at least not designed to be malicious. They’re implemented for what people believe is a legitimate, business need. Right. Oh, employee. We, you know, people are taking too long on their breaks or they’re taking too many bathroom breaks or people are using, you know? Oh, I need to go to the bathroom to get an extra break. So let’s make the bathroom as uncomfortable as possible. It’s, I see the logic. It’s flawed. Hm. But I see the logic, the problem with both of these examples is that it’s the factors of your workplace that people are dissatisfied. Right. If people are so stressed and so, work, you know, that their time is so tightly managed, that, you know, or they don’t have enough time to rest and rejuvenate, while they’re at work like that, they need to seek,they need to fake going to the washroom in order to just get away from the job for a few minutes. That is a problem with your workplace culture 100%. That is your workplace culture. That is your organization causing job dissatisfaction. That’s what needs to be addressed.


[COBY]: Yeah, because I mean, like, you know, the, if they’re avoiding, you know, a toxic environment, if they’re, you know, if the work and the people around them, if they’re being micromanaged, the point that’s causing them anxiety, they may need to, to get away just to kind of hold themselves together so they can actually get back to work and you know, but the symptom that the business are seeing as well, employees are spending more time in the bathroom. So we have to solve that problem. But that’s the symptom. The sickness is probably gonna be culture reasons. Like when we talk about this in a few in, in a few other podcasts that, you know, if there’s five reasons employees quit, one of them is probably compensation, but the other four are culture.So it’s really important to understand that the symptoms that you have to investigate this is why we’re diagnosed in the workplace is to realize that we have to stop using policies as weapons of control to address the symptoms of a much larger problem with the workplace culture.


[JAMES]: Well, and the simplest way to get around that is when you are presented with a problem, employees taking too many breaks, just ask why, why is this happening? Right. It’s employees are taking too many bathroom breaks. Ok, let’s remove all bathrooms is a dumb response to it. Right? Logical but dumb. Same as employees are taking too many bathroom breaks. Let’s make the bath, let’s make the toilets as uncomfortable as humanly possible. Logical but dumb. Instead why are they taking too many breaks? What is going on? Like is there actually a under, as you said? Right. Let’s not just treat the symptom. What is the underlying cause of this?


[COBY]: And it’s important to not just accept that we have to react with The Harsh Grip and, and control and squeeze the life out of people because employees are the enemies. And that’s often one of the fundamental again, underlying issues of where a lot of this come from. If employees are the enemies, we have to control them with Weapons of Control. And so and the other thing too is is like the story about you shopping and the manager having to like search someone’s bag before they left likely as a response as reactive response to potentially shoplifting problem. What’s funny is, again, you went to this national retailer, there’s a very, very good chance that this was a provincial or, or regional policy or rule put into place because of a store, you know, 1000 miles away from where you were shopping. So everyone has to do this because one person, you know, 1000 miles away did this in one store. So now every store has to do this. And when that happens, when that reaction to one person doing something and so everyone else gets punished that moves into the next policy as weapon, Weapons of Retaliation. Because sometimes, you know, we, we have or actually we, we’ve all seen this where you’ve been in a position, there’s been a freedom or some type of benefit that is commonplace in the workplace that everybody liked and then one person took advantage of it and everybody gets punished for it. You know, freedoms get clawed back, benefits get clawed back. And then this invasive restrictive policy or Weapon of Retaliation gets created in policy or in rule format that punishes everybody. So as, as a response of, you know, you’re all gonna do this eventually. So we’re gonna punish everybody. And that is another really awful thing that exists in a lot of workplaces.


[JAMES]: It does. And I mean, it’s, it’s unfortunate because what you do, you, you’re causing more problems for yourselves. Businesses that operate this way if you are, well, you’re probably not listening to us like you probably not. But businesses that operate this way are causing them themselves, their problems, they are the root cause of it because just whether it’s a perk that gets taken away or whether it’s an invasive policy that because somebody, you know, wherever else in the country, misbehaved. Now everybody has to be subject to these rules. All you’re doing is treating your creating conflict with all of your other employees. Then your high performers are gonna be upset that a benefit that they have been relying on is taken from them because of one person’s bad behavior. Yeah, they’ll be ticked off at that person, but they’re also gonna be ticked off at you for not handling this. Well, just like with the retailer example, you know, I strongly suspect that it had nothing to do with the store that I was shopping at. But now all employees are made to be, are made to feel like they are criminals because of one person’s actions because you’re too lazy to actually put a strategy in place and instead are just going to treat people like garbage.


[COBY]: Yeah. Well, so this reminds me of I remember a number of years ago I had a good friend that worked for this, you know, this international company and their job required a lot of travel. So one of the perks of their, of their, job was they got a company car and at the time, the rules around a company car was, the company car was, again, it was a, it was a major perk and it was meant to be a family car that his wife could drive the car. even when his, you know, kids were old enough to drive, they could drive the car as long as mileage was tracked separately, it was his great benefit. But then, you know, one day after decades of this being the norm, the normal thing, some place some where in Canada, somebody from Canada. I don’t know. I have no idea where, drove the company car to Florida for a vacation and, you know and expected that the company would pick up the mileag and the gas. And, I mean, something just bonehead, stupid, dumb, like, like a really dumb thought process. But the companies, but the company decided to use a Weapon of Retaliation and they restricted the company car use to, only for the, employee to drive and to limit and you had a limit on your personal kilometers to the point that many of the people who have been using these cars for decades, weren’t, didn’t have enough freedom of the use of the company car. So they actually had to buy a second car for further, for their home and just, and park that only drive it for company purposes because that was how restrictive the new policy was. And that just blows my mind because instead of just identifying one bad egg and punishing that person..


[JAMES]: Use your disciplinary process.


[COBY]: Right. They did. But they didn’t or the may have, but then, but they overreact, they instituted Weapons of Retaliation and created rules and policies that were heavily restricted the use of the vehicles because if one person did it, everyone’s gonna do it. I don’t know if that was their mentality, but that’s what, that’s what it made my friend feel like, so it’s one of those things where, you know, this is a common way that we weaponize policies is to retaliate to and to punish everyone for the actions of the few.


[JAMES]: And, yeah, it’s, it’s funny because I do enjoy this conversation but man, isn’t making me mad.


[COBY]: Yeah. Well, and, and I imagine that the people, the, the person listening can is, is thinking as we’re talking. Yeah, I remember when they instituted this, this heavy to control us using this, these new rules, Weapons of Control or I remember when we had this great benefit or this perk at our workplace and it got taken away because somebody misused it.And again, that’s so Weapons of Retaliation. I’m sure some people are really probably people are getting, we’re making people mad probably on their commute. They’re driving to work.


[JAMES]: Yeah. If you’re, if you’re driving, take, take a deep breath center yourself.


[COBY]: May maybe pause right now and pick up the rest of the conversation on your phone. So you don’t go into the office just raging already.


[JAMES]: Send us an email with your raging rant about, time that, your company. No, not your current company. did something like this.


[COBY]: Yeah. Yeah. Send us, send us, send us an email to, to vent. So you can, you can at least get it off your chest. You can actually go into the office and not have this rage sitting on you. What’s funny is that these, it’s so common, right?


[JAMES]: That’s the thing too. Yeah, that’s the, that’s part of what drives me up the wall. Is that somewhere along the line, businesses were told or learned or decided that the best way to manage people is to beat them down, to beat them into submission because if we can beat them into submission, then they’ll be easier to control in general. That is a dictatorship, right? That is what dictators do. That is a totalitarian structure of, let’s rule through fear and through oppressive policies and let’s, if one person steps out of line, let’s punish the entire population, right? Like we wouldn’t accept that crap. Well, hopefully we wouldn’t accept that crap from our government structures. Governments have been overthrown for those exact reasons.


[COBY]: OK. OK, James is hyperbole. Aside. you know, it, these, these are usually the reactive approach is to create a simple solution to a complex problem, right?


[JAMES]: That’s a much more fair way of reigning in.

[COBY]: Let’s be clear, this isn’t, you know, we’re not trying, we’re, we’re not having budding you know, autocrats. you know, it really tends to just be a, we need a simple solution to this complex problem. So restricting employees controlling them, retaliating against them, these kinds of weaponizing policies is just the simplest way to, to what, how we as a workplace thinks we can solve this problem.


[JAMES]: Well, I said at the beginning that I, I think it happens because it’s easy, right? I don’t think that these things happen with malicious intent. I think it happens because we’re like you said, we’re looking for an easy answer to something that is not easy, right?


[COBY]: And the other thing too is like again, with the Weapons of Control and Weapons of Retaliation, those tend to be a lot more reactive. Something happened. We wanted the simple solution. So we implemented a Weapon of Control, a Weapon of Retaliation as a way to respond to it. But moving on to the third weapon, Is the weapon of a Weapons of Oppression. And this is actually a bit more intentional and usually this isn’t a restrictive or evasive policy that was created as a reaction. This is usually more of going back to when you talked about the two things, the restrictive and evasive as well as the good intent of policies that may be twisted to bludgeon people. Weapons of Oppression are usually the, that twisting of a good policy. And a good example of that is when like, management complaints go to the direct supervisor. That’s kind of an example of using rules or policies as a Weapons of Oppression.


[JAMES]: Like if the policy says that when there’s a complaint, it needs to be reported to the direct supervisor. So you end up having to as an employee complain to your manager about your manager, right?


[COBY]: Yeah. Yeah, like we’ve seen this, I mean, I think this came up in another conversation. We saw, we saw this a bit. It was, it was surprisingly common in some nonprofits that we would have to work with, right? Where the the reporting structure for workplace issues or for conflicts or for complaints or, or anything like that. Employees. So employees would complain to the managers and the managers would bring the complaints to the CEO and the CEO would bring the complaints to theboard and which is a pretty normal structure, right? But in some workplaces that gets twisted as, and it turns, it becomes weapons of oppression because the CEO will say, ok, all com communications there to the board has to go through the CEO, which means if there’s a complaint against the CEO or the executive director, they have to be the one that brings it to the board. So if you as an employee have an issue with the CEO or executive director, then you, then the policies are designed to be Weapons of Oppression. So you have to report to the CEO, your complaint to the CEO so they can bring it to the board.


[JAMES]: Yeah. And if you go around that, if you break policy, then you are subject to discipline, right? So your choices are to complain to the CEO about the CEO or executive director or to go around them, break policy, tick them off and then be subject to disciplinary proceedings, right?


[COBY]: And I mean, the Weapons of Oppression can be, you know, like that type of twisting of existing policies in order to kind of to oppress complaints. But it can also be go as far to as big as the actions around union busting, right? Union busting or union suppression. There is, you know, there is real value in, you know, the the ideas around, you know, union businesses can’t be discussed or in work hours. Like there are, there are really good uses of policies and official rules around when unions can and cannot be part of the workplace conversation. But realistic 99% of the time those policies get twisted to become about union suppression to a point that ends up being about Weapons of Oppression. And it’s one of those things where we need to realize that again, the pendulum kind of swings both ways. But it’s, but it, it is important to realize that when a policy is twisted or is misused in order to, to be oppressive. That one of the, one of the reasons for that is that the policies themselves tend to be ambiguously written. And we see this like we do. So we, we have, we have tools and programs that we use and the work that we do with the businesses. And we provide through our training around, you know, identifying strength of policies using the policy matrices and stuff like that. And one of the, and one of the weakest level policies that we use in our, our assessment tools is policies that are written and available. That’s the line of success. If the policy is written down and available to people,..


[JAMES]: Then that’s the that’s as far as they think about that particular policy, right? Like it’s the, you’re right, it’s the tick box. We now have a policy because it is and just written down, right?


[COBY]: And, and the problem with that is usually if it, if that’s the goal is just to have it written down available, they tend to be ambiguous, they tend to be easy to twist and they tend to be very, very, very open to interpretation to the point that one manager might use it one way and another might use it in a completely different way, which really just hurts the consistency of the workplace. And these are the things that we look at when we’re talking about going back to James’s comments about job dissatisfaction because we’re talking about addressing job dissatisfaction. You need to follow The 7X3 Rule and seven factors of the workplace need to need to meet the three expectations of Competitive, Sufficient and Equitable. And one of those seven factors is policies, the policies have to be Competitive, Sufficient and Equitable.


[JAMES]: Well, and consistency is another one of the factors, right? So they, the interplay between all of these things. None of this is siloed, it’s all related and the, the well intentioned policy that gets twisted. I find it’s probably I see it more often than the, the blanket restrictive oppressive pieces because it usually comes down to individual managers being uncertain or unconfident in their ability to manage and lead people. Or like we’ve, unfortunately where we’ve seen it often is people who have been promoted and not provided any type of training or support, right? People who have shown a technical expertise in their job of proficiency and they get promoted because they’ve done a really good job in that role. And now they’ve been, now they’re in a role that they’re not using those skills that they had that had gotten them the promotion, right. They now have a new set of skills and they have not been equipped by the company to how do you manage people? How do you support people? How do you empower your team to do to perform well? So they default to, ok, we’ve got a policy. This is how I think the policy needs to work and I’m going to just beat people over the head with policies. And we’ve seen this with like toxic workplace policies that are well intentioned to support or not to support toxic workplaces that would be wrong to support a more productive workplace, promote an environment where everybody feels that they can, you know, that people have the right to work in an environment without harassment and discrimination. But yet we’ve seen managers take these and label any employee who does not toe the line or does not follow exactly what they want as toxic employee, right? A twisting of a very well intentioned and can even be a fairly well crafted policy. But a twisting of its use and interpretation by somebody who is unconfident in their management style can cause a whole host of problems.


[COBY]: Yeah. And again, and that’s another great example of Weapons of Oppression. But I think kind of going back to your point about managers being unequipped. I mean, there’s, there’s two, there’s two stats that we use in our training that are really important for people to just be aware of. These are just facts to the workplace. The first one and I think these are both from Gallup. The first one is like something around 55 to 60% more than half of new managers are provided no training whatsoever. Once they get promoted, the other one is around 70% of an employee, of the employee experience is created by their direct supervisor. Yeah. So you have over half of managers who in their role provided no training whatsoever.


[JAMES]: That’s no onboarding. That’s no management training.


[COBY]: That’s no mentoring.


[JAMES]: Congratulations. You got a new job.Good luck.


[COBY]: Yeah, then turning around and, and the people that they are responsible for 70% of their employee experience, their engagement, their job satisfaction is determined by that manager. So this is kind of the two things you need to be really clear on. I’ll put these stats in the show notes, but these are really important facts that we have to be aware of because this is why we end up seeing the Weapons of Control, the Weapons of Retaliation and the Weapons of Oppression when we’re putting, setting people up to fail by not properly preparing them and undervaluing the impact that they have on the on the everyday employee.


[JAMES]: Absolutely. And we investing in your managers is going to substantially increase if your, if your company has a priority around engagement, right? Engagement’s been a hot topic for years of how do we create engagement? How do we get people to engage in, you know, we want employee engagement because of all of the benefits of it. If that is a stated goal, you should be training your managers because as Coby just said, 70% of their employee experience, you cannot be engaged in work while you have a terrible experience at work.


[COBY]: Yeah, absolutely. So I think so. I think we, we should move on before we end this conversation to talk about. Ok, things are bad. So how can we fix it? Well, I think the first thing that we need to talk about is the difference between Rules that Restrict and Rules and Empower. Because one of the ways that we can address this is through better creating the, the policies themselves, right? Because many policies are written to be restrictive, it tells employees what they can do. So you can only do this, you can only do that and it’s about limiting the amount of freedom, the trust that they have access to and the way that they do their job, it’s about restricting that. And that tends to be how most policies are written. Now again, restrictive policies on their own aren’t a bad thing. Like you need to have that with your own safety. Like, you know, you can only use the forklift like this. That’s a, that’s a good rule.


[JAMES]: It’s restrictive but appropriate.


[COBY]: Right. Whereas Rules that Empower are about telling people what they can’t do. It’s about putting a fence around the stuff that’s off limits. Like, you can’t spend more than this on a project. You can’t put in more than these number of billable hours. You can’t, you know, be out of contact for this long. But then once you crossed off the things that they cannot do everything else is on the table and shifting and revising your policies and your policy strategies and your internal operations around Rules that Empower with policies that empower will move you from The Fragile Grip Principle’s Harsh Grip towards the supportive grip that will actually help you better take care of and nurture that fragile relationship that you have with employees.


[JAMES]: So let’s, I mean, rules on power and rules of restrict are incredibly important. And I think to illustrate like the example that I gave earlier of the retailer, the rule that they have in there is obviously very, very restrictive. And the reason why they have that is because they feel that they can’t trust their employees, the value of rules that empower the and if a big part of how we actually change this and how we move forward is we need to be able, we need to build trust, we need to remove job dissatisfaction. We need to build trust and a big way of building trust and eventually building psychological safety is through creating these rules that empower people to, you know, we put the fence around what you’re not allowed to do, but we’re gonna trust you to use your professional judgment to get the job done within these bounds that we’ve created.That is an effort that will, they’ll develop a better employee experience and that’s really what we want, right? We’re trying to implement these policies so that employees are productive, so that they are, you know, that the work, the work that needs to get done is going to be accomplished. This is a great strategy that you can employ to do that,


[COBY]: No, no, that, that’s a good point.


[JAMES]: Yeah, I think the next big thing that people really need to do to fix this is to as we’ve already talked about, understand The 7X3 Rule, understand the factors of the workplace and how they are either meeting or not meeting the expectations of being Competitive, Sufficient and Equitable because if you are actively creating, if your factors are not meeting those expectations, then they are creating job dissatisfaction. And that is going to cause more of these problems, more misunderstandings and more opportunities for companies to feel like they need to implement these very, very harsh, restrictive policies.


[COBY]: And probably the third thing that we would say to businesses and this is to the managers, hr, professionals, founders, small business owners. It’s important to realize that, you know, especially while you’re small, why your organization is small or your teams are small that you try to get this stuff right from the beginning. Because what’s really tough is to do a full cultural shift when, when these Weapons of Control, Weapons of Retaliation and Weapons of Oppression are ingrained into the culture and the daily interaction, it really makes this part a lot tougher. If you want to be able to kind of a to resolve these issues is still possible and we have the tools to help you do that. But it is something where if you know while you’re small, while you’re nimble, getting this stuff right from the beginning by not leaning into the Fragile Grip Principle’s Harsh Grip and looking at that more supportive grip and trying to do things right from the start that will kind of really help you, avoid a lot of headaches in the future.


[JAMES]: Yeah, I agree. I mean, getting it right from the beginning, investing your time and energy into developing these things now is not only going to make a difference for your employees, it’s going to make a difference for your business, right? It will help you to achieve your business outcomes faster, right? Which it will allow you, which is what we want, our businesses are, we’ve started our businesses so to be profitable to, to accomplish certain things. Taking the time now. Yes, it takes some, it requires some thought and effort, but it’s going to pay dividends in the future.


[COBY]: Absolutely. No. That, and that’s a good point. All right. I think that, I think we covered a lot in this topic. So, I think I’ll just do a quick, quick recap. So the question was why do companies default to using policies as weapons? Well, largely that looks like policies that are designed to be highly restrictive and invasive or sometimes it’s about taking good, good intended policies that become twisted and to be used as weapons, those weapons tend to be the result of the Harsh Grip from the Fragile Grip Principle where we try and use control and squeeze the life out of employees in order to, to maintain our authority as, as a business. But also, as a way to, we think it’s a, it’s, it, we think that’s the natural path towards productivity. But the weapons that we create are Weapons of Control that are about, putting in these evasive restrictive processes like, like checking employees bags before they can leave as a way of maintaining order and be because we’ve lost the ability to trust employees we feel. It’s Weapons of Retaliation where we punish everyone for the actions of a few. Again, another evasive and restrictive approach, that’s often done as a reaction to something that went wrong. Instead of addressing the core issue, we try to punish everybody for it. And the last is Weapons of Oppression. These are when we use tactics to kind of, to reduce kind of employees say in the employee voice or, or employee freedoms as a way for leadership and management to kind of make sure that they have this, you know, the authority that, that they need throughout the organization. But the real question is, how do we fix this? Well, one of the best ways is to consider the, the difference between rules that restrict and rules and empower. If you want, if you want to maintain this, these Weapons of Control and using The Harsh Grip, then weapons, or sorry, rules that restrict are going to be the way that we do that. But if we actually want to resolve this, we might need to look at how can we shift the way policies are written towards Rules that Empower, allowing employees to have a fence around things that they cannot do and providing them limited freedom to help them build the economy and trust that they need to actually create the kind of work we want out of them. We want to use The 7X3 Rule to understand that policies, consistency and all the factors of the workplace need to be Competitive, Sufficient and Equitable. We really want our policies and the consistency of our workplace and, and the environment that we’re in to actually be productive. We have to make sure that these policies and everything are competitive with other businesses in our industry or region are sufficiently doing what they’re supposed to be doing to allow employees to give us their best work and are fair and equitable in their enforcement. And probably the last piece of advice that we have is for the managers, business owners, hr whomever to try to get this as right as, as soon as you can, as early as you can, especially while you’re small and nimble, realize that if we, if we can avoid ingraining into our workplace, into our culture, these weapons and The Harsh Grip, then we’ll end up creating a better outcomes for ourselves, both with employee experience and for business outcomes. Because again, culture is directly tied to business performance and business outcomes. And if we can realize that if we do the right things for our employees, employees will do the right things for our business. Yeah. All right. So that is it for us for a full archive of our podcast and access to the video versions hosted on our youtube channel. Visit www.roman3.ca/podcast. Thanks for joining us.


[ANNOUNCER]: For more information on topics like these. Don’t forget to visit us at www.roman3.ca. Side effects of this podcast may include improved retention, high productivity, increased market share employees breaking out in spontaneous dance, dry mouth. A version of the sound of James’s voice, desire to find a better podcast…

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