How to set the rules and guidelines for your business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

When was the last time you refreshed the rules that are in place in your workplace? Every business with more than one employee needs to think about rules and disciplinary policies. Not doing so will only make your business a more risky and dangerous place to work. That can backfire at any moment. On top of that, you need to have disciplinary procedures in place so that everyone knows where they stand and how they should behave.

Put Safety First
Nothing matters more than safety when you’re setting rules in your workplace. If anything puts people at risk, it should be against the rules. It really does need to be as simple as that. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a litigation suit, do you? These days, businesses must be very careful not to be put anyone at risk. And that applies to both customers and clients, as well as employees of the business. So, when you’re setting the rules, don’t let anything take precedence over safety.

Collaborate and Listen to Employees
Rules shouldn’t always be enforced heavy-handedly from above. That’s not usually the best way to produce fruitful outcomes for your business. In fact, it can just make things more difficult for everyone involved. It’s much more productive if you’re able to collaborate with your employees in a cordial manner and listen to their suggestions and feedback. They might have views they want to air to you, and it’s only right that you take the time to listen to them in a fair and reasonable kind of way. If your employees play a part in setting the rules, they will be more likely to abide by them.

Know the Difference Between Rules and Guidelines
You need to make sure that you know the differences between rules and guidelines. Rules are there to be followed, and they can’t be deviated from. However, the definition of guidelines is not the same at all. A guideline is more like a suggestion that can be interpreted in different ways by your employees. You can’t set a lot of guidelines and then be angry when some of them are not interpreted in the way you intended. If you have some policies that you don’t think should be broken under any circumstances, make them rules not guidelines.

Make Clear What the Consequence Will Be
Of course, there need to be consequences for breaking the rules. Otherwise, there is no incentive at all to follow them. So, set up consequences and carefully decide what they will be. But what’s most important is how you communicate those consequences to your workforce. They need to have a full and proper understanding of what will happen if they do break rules or fail to follow clear policies. If you’re not clear about what the consequences will be, things will be unfair.

Always Offer a Chance to Explain
People often have good reasons for not adhering to policies. For example, if someone is late to work according to the employee policies you have in place, you might want to instantly take disciplinary action. But that kind of hasty response can be too much. First, you need to talk to them privately about their reasons for being late. If they have a legitimate reason to back themselves up, you should accept this and move on. There is no sense in punishing people for things they have no control over. That’s just counterproductive in the long-term.

Keep Up the Communication
Finally, you need to make sure you keep up the strong communication that you should already have put in place. By doing that, you can ensure that your business runs smoothly and everyone knows where they stand. And if they feel a need to ask any questions, they should feel comfortable doing so. That’s the smart way to ensure you don’t get caught out or make your employees feel ostracised. Remember, the purpose of this is not to restrict your employees or make them feel persecuted in any way. You need to mitigate those kinds of impacts.

Every workplace is different, but they all need rules. The advice above will help you to set those rules in the right way. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to improve a vital aspect of your business.

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