Are your team disrespecting the rules? Start changing that today with this simple approach

Are your team disrespecting the rules? Start changing that today with this simple approach

If you’ve experienced the frustration of simple rules being broken and it feels like you’re banging your head against a brick wall – I feel your pain!

I know what it’s like when you’re juggling all the responsibilities of running a business. The last thing you need is to have to deal with things that seem simple to you and should be easy for your employees to follow.

So why does this happen? Why is it that simple policies and processes aren’t followed time and time again?

We specialise in working with people at a deeper level, influencing their mind-sets. Experience tells us that you’ll be surprised with the reasons that they use to reject the rules. Often, they can resist it completely unconsciously, and not even see it as an issue until it’s flagged!

I know every leader can benefit from having the tools and techniques to gain this awareness, so I wanted to write this article. I want to give you a new approach to get to the root of the problem and rapidly provide the remedy.

Managers effectively giving feedback to their team

Why do people reject rules?

Behind every behaviour is a cause. Often, it’s something buried deep inside the individuals mind. It can also be an external factor triggering the response.

Here are some of the most common examples of why people reject the rules:

You don’t follow your own employment policies

If you don’t follow your own policies, it’s unlikely that your team will respect them. This won’t be the first time you’ve heard the importance of leading by example! In this case, the document isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if you pick and choose which you stick to and which ones you don’t.

They don’t understand the rules

This actually happens a surprising amount, so don’t feel bad if this is your company. Employees can think that rules are petty if you don’t give them the ‘why’ behind them. All learning or change requires a ‘why’. Our minds want to know the purpose of doing things, and the key to getting compliance with rules is to help people understand how it directly relates to them or their values. What’s in it for them?!

Even if the rule is set for your benefit, I bet there’s something in it for them if you look closely enough.

They have freedom, power, or autonomy in their values system.

If they’re driven by these values, rules can feel very restricting. It’s like being in prison. And what do prisoners do? Yep. They want to get out. For these individuals, I would make sure that there are plenty of ways that you can fulfil these values. This could be allowing them to plan their own tasks, organise their own goals and schedule, giving them a brief and letting them experiment with it.

Then, when you come to asking them to comply with something, they’re more likely to be able to adjust because their needs are met in other ways.

You might be thinking that it’s not a need. They just have to accept that if they’re your employee, there will be rules. I do get it. Really I do!

But I’ve seen the extra stress and hassle this outlook can have.

An engaged and motivated workforce is far easier to manage than a resistant one, don’t you agree?

What I’m not saying is that you should satisfy their every need. For one, that’s just not possible 99% of the time. And two, there may be times when difficult decisions have to be made for the sake of the business. However, when people are valued and respected for their individuality, they will be more likely to go above and beyond or accept things when they need to.

This is because you’ve shown them that you care enough to do the same.

team working together in a relaxed setting

They’re testing the boundaries

Sometimes, people think there are rules, and there are unbreakable rules. If they don’t know the consequences and there are no transparent boundaries set, then they may find themselves trying to figure out where they stand and what rules mean by experimenting and learning from reactions.

It’s important to be clear and consistent in how you present your decisions if you want the team to take them seriously!

They forget them!

If there’s a lot of information to remember within your organisation, the chances are that the employee has deleted what wasn’t initially relevant to them at the time of hearing the policies.

You can’t really blame them for this or assume they’re being lazy with remembering it all. The mind can only handle a certain amount of information at once. So, unless your rules are presented in a way that helps them remember it, such as through pictures, sounds, or feelings, the chances are they will forget the long winded and detailed terminology!

They don’t feel valued

Sometimes, employees unconsciously want to pass along a message. Perhaps they don’t know how, or choose not to raise their concerns. However, they feel really dis-engaged and under-appreciated so they start showing this in resistance. It’s a form of communication, and it means you need to do something if you want the outcome to change.

Two colleagues working together and smiling

The most important thing you can do is to find out why your employee is ignoring the rules, because it’ll mean different things to different people.

Here are some tips for avoiding this frustration in the future:

  1. Consider the rules from all angles. Give careful thought to what it means for people on an individual level and for each department. Think of the impacts of time, the benefits, the risks, the purpose. When you make thoughtful choices, then this will come through in the way you speak about rules, processes, and policies. People can respect them more.
  2. Communicate with your employees about the proposed rules/policies as they come up. Give them the what, how, why, and the what ifs. They will then have everything they need in order to understand how it applies to them and really understand the information you’re communicating.
  3. What’s in it for them? Communicate that. Show them it’s not just about your own agenda and consult with them. Better yet, get their input before you implement the rule! Make it okay for them to voice their honest opinions and offer suggestions.
  4. Get confirmation of their understanding. Make sure they really do get it either by summarising it back to you, or confirming it with a signature. Something that builds accountability!
  5. Be transparent. People like leaders that can be human. When you put your ‘human hat’ on and speak about how you feel about the policies and how much it concerns you if they’re disregarded, people will know how important it is.
  6. Give feedback. People may slip up. That doesn’t mean that they need to become a serial disrespecter! Talk to them, find out what’s happening, and give them feedback. This raises their awareness.
  7. Check up on the success! Show them that you review the policies and will take their feedback into consideration. Find out how it’s working, identify any changes that need to be made, and get your people involved. They’ll be far more likely to follow the rules if they feel important enough to be included in some way.
  8. Instead of just reading long sentences out (which I admit, I’ve been guilty of before!), sum up the policy in a short sentence that is easier to understand and remember. Metaphors work surprisingly well for something like this as it creates meaning with pictures, sounds, or feelings that won’t be forgotten. In inductions, I always emphasis key phrases. When I ask at the end of the day what they remembered, or do tests throughout the day, they always remember the phrases that were said in a different tone.

By implementing these 8 tips, you’re almost guaranteed to improve your team’s respect for the rules.

If you want to learn more about advanced communication techniques so you can make sure more of what you say is remembered (and acted upon!) we’ve got a great article on effective communication skills here.

If you would like to address mindsets in your team, this is our speciality. We’re always happy to assist as we know everyone can be helped with the right approach. I didn’t really believe that before, but now I’ve seen the incredible transformation with hundreds of people so I know it to be true. It’s just about knowing the right way to get through to people.

If you would like to be an expert in this field, send me an email and we can work together to build a training program that gives you every vital communication technique necessary to make you a Master Communicator.

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