Four Steps to Effective Rule Enforcement
Do you want to help your work team leaders maximize rule compliance and raise work team commitment levels? If so, use the four steps of effective rule enforcement. The four-step enforcement process I use to achieve near 100% compliance is not that complicated.
However, it is different than the rule enforcement approaches most organizations use. As rule following is a key aspect of high performance work, I thought I would take the time to share this process with you.
Why Do People Break Rules?
Multiple reasons help explain why people break rules. However, we all too often fail to effectively address such rationale to improve rule compliance, let alone commitment. Instead, we rely on punishment, reminders, and reprimands. Such weak fixes are not sustainable. How effective are your rule enforcement steps?
Whenever I teach a TapRooT® root cause analysis course, I get the chance to see an effective four-step rule enforcement process in action. To enhance learning, we take breaks every hour. With each break comes the opportunity for people to break the rules.
What percent of the class comes back from the ten-minute break on time? It all depends on how the facilitator enforces class break rules.
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Step 1: Clearly Define and Communicate the Rules for Effective Rule Enforcement
Clarity and repetition are two keys to effective rule communication. All too often, we write the rules in a very general nature. Plus, we state the rules only one time. We rely on others to communicate our policies for us. However, we often fail to ensure the right emotional emphasis – positive or negative – is attached to such communications.
Leaders often write rules in a ‘one size fits all’ style. This allows flexibility in application. Unfortunately, they may not realize that such generality can also invite higher levels of non-compliance.
In the classroom example, very different behaviors occur when we emphasize the need to be ‘back in the room and in your seat’ rule. If we simply ask people to ‘be back in the room’ before the break time expires, we get lower on-time compliance.
Plus, we often fail to appreciate the fact that people have different communication preferences. Some people understand and retain written communiques much better than others. Verbal, face-to-face communications often work the best. However, we often don’t want to take the extra time to share information multiple ways.
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Step 2: Provide Consistent Rule Compliance Feedback
In class, we project a big clock on the screen at the front of the room. Such feedback clearly lets people know how much break time is left. We don’t expect them to track their own time as the only feedback source. Similarly, speed limit signs that are paired with a current speed indicator do a better job of keeping excessive speeds down.
How do you provide your people with ‘real time’ rule compliance performance? How often do they only follow the rules when they know someone is watching? I learned years ago that the adage ‘No feedback, no motivation’ really matters.
Such feedback does not have to be negative or punitive. However, leaders need to consistently provide it. That is where the importance of consequences come in.