Policies Over People? Really?


Based on a Post Published on LinkedIn November 15, 2014

Featured in: Leadership & Management

Policies Over People is a leadership paradigm that is often used by organizations that perform out of a deficit thought process rather than through appreciative workplace values.

Policies Over People causes two leadership errors which are greatly responsible for undermining morale while cultivating all sorts of dysfunction in the organization.

First, there is priority reversal.

Priority reversal is sometimes expressed by bosses when they countermand the significant in a wrong-headed predilection for the trivial. Sometimes this experience is conveyed by supervisors who are focused myopically on their own position or title rather than giving appropriate attention to fostering an appreciative work environment.

Take the example of a medical facility that employs technicians with the designation of Tech I, II, III, and IV. If a lead position has been designated Tech IV and an individual chooses to focus not on being a technician among technicians, but instead on Roman numerals, the natural progression will likely be toward maintaining a culture mired the deficit thought process status quo.

These outcomes and behaviors contribute to the second leadership error and that is the phenomena of system justification.

When priorities are disjointed, supervisors have to expend undue energy rationalizing. This can bring in all sorts of arbitrary rules that replace the organization’s primary policies (which ought to be in place to ensure safety, continuity, positive communication, the simplification of tasks, etc.).

So much time and effort is placed on the ministration, investigation and observation of problems (along with micromanaging) that any chance of expanding what actually works is lost. In a morass of poor leadership and errors based on an outmoded corporate paradigm, the best of what is gets overlooked, imagining what could be is repressed, what could be and what will be evaporate.

True workplace exasperation comes when these phenomena create an environment of indifference. Indifference is workplace death.

At least you can fight a hostile work environment, but there is no cure for the kind of indifference that kills day-to-day performance, job satisfaction, employee retention, team spirit, motivation, and innovation.

A culture that supports an innate demandingness causes leaders to work like they’re firefighters and problem solvers―it is a culture that has conditioned its people to believe that stress, under involvement and “issues” are the name of the game.

Everyone has the right to be appreciated and engaged and all workplaces can benefit from a fresh, appreciative paradigm. Change may not be inevitable, but any change is better than an ongoing experience of rigidity, power-playing, and stagnation.


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