No Policies - Good or Bad?
"We trust you", they said.
"Make reasonable decisions yourself", they said.
"Policies are unnecessary bureaucracy", they said.
"You don't need to ask for approval", they said.
... and people aren't happy with all this freedom.
What do you think, what do people feel and what they really need, when they request "clear rules", "public policies", "1-1s, performance reviews & development plans"?
We see that many times companies give freedom without clear guidelines. They just ditch rules and expect people to fully enjoy it. This is not always the case though, especially if expectations are unclear.
Instead, dig deeper in understanding what's missing. I think nobody can really answer these questions but the employees who request more rules.
Can they properly assess their own performance? Do teams/individuals know when they're doing a good/bad job? Do they feel responsibility/accountability? Just having freedom often isn't that much fun.
What are the guidelines or "rules of the game" within which they can operate? Think of it like a game of football, lots of freedom and autonomy but with few clear rules within which teams can operate.
How are work outcomes affected by the treatment of those who do it? I have been exploring this question for ~50 years. In that time, one comment stuck with me more than any other. It was made in 1998 when I interviewed a group of men in Indianapolis who had redesigned most of the US city’s waste collection and disposal operations. “We are no longer expected to park our brains at the door when we come to work.”
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