Playing By The Rules
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Friday, August 27, 2010
in business or a nonprofit organization there will be instances where
you will inevitably be warned to "play by the rules." I have heard this
in just about every company I've consulted with, as well as the many
different nonprofit organizations I have participated in over the years.
Basically, it is a thinly veiled warning not to disrupt the status quo
or face the consequences. It is essentially no different than saying
"Do it our way or else." Interestingly, I have discovered people
either don't know what the rules are, misinterpret them, or know them
Playing by the rules doesn't necessarily mean
following the written rules, policies and procedures as defined in a
formal document such as a policy manual or a set of governing docs such
as bylaws. More likely it means to conform to the wishes and whims of
the current regime. Volunteer organizations in particular can easily
become political snake pits. One of the things you discover early on,
it's not a matter what the governing docs say as much as it is about who
interprets them. Regardless of the clarity of the language, the rules
will be interpreted by those in charge. Not surprising, those who
admonish us to play by the rules are the same people who control them
thereby turning them into a political football.
It is not uncommon to discover there are probably
more unwritten rules than written. The sooner you learn them, the
better. This is, of course, all a part of learning and adapting to the
corporate culture. The written rules may say one thing, the unwritten
rules may mean something entirely different and probably carry more
weight. Too many times I have seen procedures clearly written one way,
yet when I ask about them, I am told "We haven't done it that way in
As a systems man, I learned a long time ago to
consult with secretaries and clerks when trying to figure out an
existing system. The documentation may say one thing (if any), but the
operational people know how things are really run. It kind of makes you
wonder why organizations invest in developing policies and procedures if
nobody is expected to follow them. In all likelihood it is to create a
legal escape hatch in the event of when push comes to shove.
People will pay little attention to rules that are
unfairly interpreted. In fact, they will go out of their way to subvert
them, and why not? If the current regime demonstrates unethical behavior,
their subordinates or constituents in all likelihood will follow suit.
Again, this is all part of the corporate culture.
Getting people to conform to the formal written
policies and procedures takes an individual with unusual strength of
character, who understands the necessity of conformity, and interprets
the rules fairly. Such people of integrity are unfortunately becoming
few and far between.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to
their respective companies.
Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of
M. Bryce & Associates
(MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the
management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2010-10-01 15:47:56 in Personal Articles