Inc has published a great article titled 10 Dumb Rules That Make Your Best People Want to Quit. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart, both because I’ve experienced working with companies with some or all of the rules, and I’ve been working in the advertising business long enough to see first-hand how these dumb rules actually come into the conversation whenever I’ve asked why someone was leaving.
Among the worst rules listed:
Dumb rules for performance reviews – There’s no bigger waste of time, and no easier way to insult a great employee than making them fill out these “rate yourself from 1 to 5” reviews. If managers and companies actually cared, they would know the answers and act accordingly. I’ve never met a manager that enjoyed these types of reviews, and I’ve never met a fellow employee that didn’t cringe when it came time to fill them out. This is particularly annoying if you work for a company that is having financial difficulties and you know damn well you aren’t going to get a raise anyway, or they’ve already pre-determined that you’re getting the standard 3% raise no matter how great you are.
Dumb rules for approval – What is the point of trying to hire the best and brightest employees, and then not letting them do their job without you hand-holding and looking over their shoulder at every little thing they do? Why would they tell someone they needed a real go-getter who doesn’t need a lot of supervision, and someone they could trust to get the job done… then not trust them to get the job done? It’s insane.
How stupid would I be to hire the brightest minds in our business and then tell them what to do?
—Steve Jobs, Founder/CEO of Apple
I worked for a company that would not allow a single piece of work go through to completion without reviews by committees of managers and the CEO himself. Yes, the CEO actually had to approve EVERY LITTLE project. I had a 2-inch by half-inch white sticker with 8 words in black Helvetica type (a legal disclaimer) that had to be added to the bottom of product boxes sold in California. There was no debate about the wording—it came straight from the legal department and I copy/pasted it. It took me about 45-seconds to create it, make a PDF proof and send it to the appropriate project manager. It took two weeks to get through the approval process because the management team “didn’t have time” to talk about it in their weekly meetings.
Dumb rules for onsite attendance – It’s 2017. We have our own computers, and they’re usually much more powerful than the cheap crap companies try to get by with. We also have high-speed Internet, and it’s almost always much faster than the company Internet connection because it isn’t being shared by dozens if not hundreds of employees and network servers. You’re paying us well, and treating us decent… so why won’t you let us work from home a few days per week? I’ll tell you why. Because the people in charge are old school “We need to get our money’s worth out of you and the only way we can make sure we are is by seeing you sitting at a desk.”
So you need to be home to let the repair guy in to my house for what will probably be an hour of work. The problem is that he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll be at the house… sometime between noon and 3pm he says. If I’m allowed to work from home, I can spend all but the 5 minutes it takes to let him in and explain the problem GETTING WORK DONE. But no… you need to take an entire day off, putting everyone else behind waiting for you to return to work the next day to get what they need from you. Brilliant. That’s getting their money’s worth, alright.
I’ve heard these same stories from numerous friends working for companies of all sizes. The one constant is management/owner mentality that they need to see an employee in order to believe they’re working. Studies have shown that people are happier, and almost always more productive working from home, I have no idea why owners refuse to buy into it.
The dumb rule missing from the list
You’re always going to find somebody that abuses a work from home policy, it’s unavoidable. But that brings me to a dumb rule that’s not on the list in that article.
The “no cause” clause that companies refuse to follow. In most professional companies, you sign some sort of agreement saying you’ve read the employee handbook and accept the rules stated. One of those rules is always “you can be fired for no cause.” So if you have an employee that isn’t performing, and/or abusing the work from home policy, WHY DON’T YOU JUST FIRE THEM??? Why must the rest of us suffer through months and months of “we need to build a case to get rid of him” time? It’s insulting to good employees—putting unnecessary stress on them—and it’s doing more harm to the company than any worry of lawsuits.