Like a strict parent, a strict boss is probably motivated by love. You cherish the business you worked so hard for and you won't let a little bit of grumbling among employees keep you from running a tight ship. Your team might not like the rules your lay down to keep them productive and on-task, but these guide rails mean your business runs smoothly and efficiently.

That might be the thinking of the control freak boss, but according to a recent LinkedIn Influencer post from author and President of TalentSmart Dr. Travis Bradberry, despite your good intentions, your strict rules are probably making your team less productive, not more.

"As my company has grown, so has our difficulty maintaining standards. There have been many instances where someone crossed a line, and we were tempted to respond with a new rule that applied to everyone. But that's where most companies blow it," he writes. "In just about every instance, upon closer inspection, we realized that establishing a new rule would be a passive and morale-killing way to address the problem. The vast majority of the time, the problem needs to be handled one-on-one by the employee's manager."

So what are the most common counter-productive rules from management that employees hate and which end up only reducing the amount they get done? Bradberry offers a long list, including:

1. Social media bans

Your team should be doing work, not checking Facebook, right? That sounds simple, but restricting access to social media use is actually counter productive. Besides annoying your team (who no doubt want to be trusted like the grown ups they are), research has shown that short internet breaks actually help the brain recharge and enable employees to get more done in the long-run.

Bradberry points out a different downside: "Many companies restrict Internet activity so heavily that it makes it difficult for people to do online research. The most obvious example? Checking the Facebook profile of someone you just interviewed."

2. Forced ranking of employees

People might not like to face this hard truth, but someone has got to be the best, and sadly, someone has got to be the worst. What's wrong with identifying where all your employees fall in the pecking order of performance?

"Some individual talents follow a natural bell-shaped curve, but job performance does not. When you force employees to fit into a pre-determined ranking system, you do three things: 1) incorrectly evaluate people's performance, 2) make everyone feel like a number, and 3) create insecurity and dissatisfaction when performing employees fear that they'll be fired due to the forced system," explains Bradberry. "This is yet another example of a lazy policy that avoids the hard and necessary work of evaluating each individual objectively, based on his or her merits."

3. Regulating what people wear or display

Of course you need to have a word with someone who comes in wearing shorts and flip flops, and a half-naked picture of Rafael Nadal is not appropriate desk decoration (though I have to admit, I wasn't terribly bothered when a colleague of mine briefly put one up several years back). But responding to individual breaches of taste and decency with blanket prescriptions that limit your staff's self-expression is a bad idea.

"When someone crosses the line, their manager needs to have the skill to address the issue directly. Otherwise, you're making everyone wish they worked somewhere else because management is too inept to handle touchy subjects effectively," writes Bradberry.

Published on: Jul 28, 2015
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