I’m a rule follower…I actually love rules, especially the ones I make. Most of our members do a great job creating rules of their own to improve efficiencies and be well organized. The problem I’ve been seeing is that we seldom review the old and obsolete rules before implementing new ones. The end result is far too many rules that rarely all get followed.
We now have so many rules that we tend to forget whose rules they are and where they came from. Some rules are actually the law. Others are codes or ordinances. Some may have been developed by the former business owner years ago and never challenged in recent years. The best practice would be to have one person responsible for the collection and distribution of company rules and policy and have this be part of the orientation process. The point I’m making is that we need good and relevant rules and we need to eliminate the bad rules from our businesses to be competitive and maintain profitability goals.
Here are a few examples of company-developed rules that need ongoing evaluation:
- Meetings; who is required and how often and productive they really are.
- Reports; are they truly useful and worth the time and effort it takes.
- Email; can you eliminate the time spent on replying to email by adding new procedures for what needs a reply and what doesn’t.
- Approval processes; are they meaningful, or simply bottlenecks?
Every company in our industry could benefit from a summer time cleanup of their outdated rules and could improve processes and profits by replacing old rules with fewer and more relevant new ones. They could also benefit from a review of compliance to the mandated laws and rules handed down by government officials and agencies.
Here are a few examples of external rules that need even greater attention in most of our member companies:
- Labor and wage classifications; exempt and non-exempt, overtime, prevailing wage adherence, etc.
- Code compliance; review and adhere to local, state and national code requirements, permits, OSHA, EPA, etc.
- Use of sub-contractors and contract employees; we still see companies that would absolutely be fined for their interpretation (or indifference) of this requirement.
Both lists could obviously be expanded. The point I’m illustrating is we already have so many rules to follow that we need to be mindful of not creating even more which might conflict with external mandates and business laws. It’s our nature to implement new rules in order to improve accountability. I encourage that of course, unless it comes at the expense of eroding profitability. Look to only add a new rules if it improves both. NSCA can provide you with many resources for knowing which mandates you need to follow and developing a policy and procedures manual.
I am very aware of how thick the rule book has become and how the bad rules erode profits. I recommend you challenge your key employees to read the existing rules and procedures and invite them to bring forward which ones don’t make sense or conflict with others. By doing this my guess is that for every new rule you add you will be able to remove two bad ones. Good luck! CW