Lessons Along the Way

As BedTimes readers well know, clear and concise company policies are critical components of any company, regardless of the products it manufactures or services it offers.That’s why we frequently address how to develop and implement policies to protect your employees, business and bottom line. Equally, policies provide direction and standards of behavior for employees to follow. 

In this issue, and just in time for Valentine’s Day, Phillip M. Perry details the need for guidelines about workplace dating. As he points out, while dating between supervisors and subordinates has become a fact of life, employers should establish clear policies to keep romantic involvements from leading to conflicts of interest, unhealthy favoritism and costly sexual harassment lawsuits. According to Perry, written policies establish clearly understood ground rules while protecting the employer from charges of privacy invasion.

As I edited this story, I remembered a couple of employee policies that provided guideposts for my work habits.

  • Prioritize communications. With the onslaught of myriad ways to communicate with each other over the past 20 years, employees of a company I once worked for struggled to prioritize email responses. Many of us found ourselves spending endless hours trying to keep up, to the detriment of our work. Once the problem was brought to the owner of the company’s attention, he implemented a strategy shaped like a triangle outlining the hierarchy of replies. First, co-workers are top priority. Your reliance on each other, he said, was critical to the success of the company. Second, reply to freelance workers, vendors, suppliers, etc. They help keep production on schedule. Third, answer unsolicited emails. While keeping the wheels turning was our first responsibility, connecting with those interested in our work often brought in new ideas.
  • Be on time. Years ago, I worked for a publishing company that instituted a punctuality policy. If you weren’t present and accounted for by a certain time, your tardiness was documented and a list was distributed to everyone. Full disclosure: I was a habitual offender. While most of us learned the importance of being on time in kindergarten, I never cozied up to that practice. Until that point, I usually was freakishly early or embarrassingly late. So, as annoying as this policy was, it taught me to manage my time better, which, in turn, made me a more productive — and punctual — employee.

These simple examples may seem small, but for me, they provided structure. As managers, that’s one of the most powerful gifts you can give employees.

What policies have worked — and not worked — for you? I look forward to hearing from you.

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