Few things aggravate me as much as someone saying: “That’s our policy.” I suppose there is a valid argument to be made for some policies but more often than not, it’s an excuse for the person quoting the policy not to think.
Years ago, when I was at Unisys Corporation one of my superiors was promoted into a corporate policy position. He immediately put a cartoon on his door with one person asking for a “no-tie policy”. The policy czar in the cartoon replied, “I can’t issue a no-tie policy, then I’d have to wear a tie everyday.” In the year or so that he had the job, I don’t think he wrote a single policy, but he destroyed a number of them.
Recently, we had a hacked credit card with $600 of gaming charges hitting the account in a few days. Epic Games has no working phone number so discussing with them was not an option. Of course we notified the credit card company which resulted in Epic banning the account. Dealing with Epic Games has been among the worst customer service experiences I have ever encountered. At points, I couldn’t tell if I was dealing with a person or a bot as any question was met with little more than a stock “we are unable to reactivate the account”. Really, a hacked credit card results in banning the victim of the fraud? I’m still hoping to find someone who can help (it’s become about principle at this point).
When I was in my first job, my boss asked me if I could explain the new travel policy to him as he had to book a trip. I said, “No, it’s too complex, written by people who never travel, and doesn’t make any sense so I quit reading it.” He looked at me and said, “But you just got back from a trip, how did you book flights?” I told him I booked the flights that I would have chosen if it was my own money. He replied, “Good idea, that’s what I’ll do.”
Bad policies not only result in bad decisions they also tend to be ignored by people who think for themselves. At best they are ineffective. At worst they cost the company money and result in a disdain for policies in general (you might have guessed I’ve come across numerous bad policies in my life). If I spent some time with a few colleagues, I’ll bet we could come up with enough examples to fill a book.
How many times have you been stonewalled by the “That’s our policy” line when it clearly made no sense? Do you have company policies? If so, I hope they are logical with the end result in mind and that people have the flexibility to make exceptions based on the situation at hand. Life is situational. It’s not a series of “if-then” statements.
What’s your policy? Mine is to ignore policies.
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