Silly Office Rules

by Joe Lavelle on August 17, 2012

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Everyone must wear calm, neutral shades on Mondays to create a peaceful start to the work week.

You must ask for a hall pass to use the restroom and return it to your manager as soon as you return.

You cannot have any photos of your family on your desk as they can distract you from thinking about job tasks. 

OK, I made these up, but I have to wonder if they actually might be rules in an office somewhere.  As a recent blog post by Allison Linn for the Today show points out, seemingly ridiculous rules are on the rise in the workplace.  And, she contends that a lack of managerial leadership may be to blame.

Instead of confronting a problem head on, like talking to the one person who plays his radio loud enough for the surrounding cubicles to hear or requiring the employee who is chronically late to be more accountable for her time, managers seem to be issuing blanket rules in an effort to solve the problem without having to be the heavy.  Could this be part of a larger issue — that we are hesitant to hold others accountable for their actions?  Would a strong leader in the business world be able to look the offending individuals in their eyes and demand a change?

Human resources consultant Laurie Ruettimann believes that instead of handing down a new rule through office-wide e-mail every time frustration sets in over employee behavior, managers should be having ongoing conversations with each person in the office about their work performance and any possible problems that may be developing.

Have you ever been faced with an office rule that seemed unnecessary or even insulting?  How did you deal with it?

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