Are Arbitrary Rules Slowing Your Events Down?

Absolutely Nothing is Allowed Here

Most startups don’t need workplace rules. This isn’t because employees don’t use the internet on company time, talk on their cellphone during work hours, want raises/promotions before they’re there six months to a year or want to wear what they find comfortable; it’s because startups don’t hire people they don’t trust.

Rules exist to compensate for lack of trust, period. While quoting lost production numbers ($1.2 kajillion lost due to Facebook use on company time!!!) may make sense to accountants, it makes little sense to the employees actually doing the work.

Because most events are essentially short-term startup companies, we like to look at rules that other event planners employ and learn from them. While our most important rule has always been ‘do the right thing’, here are a few thoughts on some other rules we think are more trouble than they’re worth.

Specific Uniforms
Unless you’re supplying the uniforms, expecting staff to dress the same way has never made sense to me. The difference between khaki, black or gray slacks is pretty arbitrary, even more so is the color of dress shirts. Instead of dictating EXACTLY what your staff should wear, give guidelines instead. You’ll end up with happier employees that are likely wearing clothes they look good and are comfortable in.

Ask A Supervisor
We know many companies value the efficiency of getting decisions correct the first time. Problem is, this often requires three levels in the chain of command, a meeting or six, a few mind maps and a memorandum to document it all. But when all the vendor wanted was an extra outlet and access to the WiFi, this process isn’t useful.

Employees that are treated as drones seldom do great work. Instead of instructing those in your employ to ask someone else whenever they come up with a question they don’t have the answer to, try empowering them to make the call themselves. This will lead to short-term mistakes, but long-term success is the goal here.

Locked Resources
Need more paper? How about badge holders? Perhaps some toner? Or maybe scissors, a few pens, some notepads or even a sharpie? To get these, please fill out a requisition form, ask for the key from the self-appointed office manager, run in the supply closet, grab what you need — don’t even think about looking for anything else — and return the key.

While we don’t blame companies for wanting to hold onto to expensive resources and make the supply chain a bit more manageable for the bean counters, overreacting to possibly employee theft or misuse of company materials is more trouble than it’s worth. Removing the barriers for supplies may mean you lose a few more pens, but the cost savings should override them.

What Rules?
Instead of implementing rules such as the above, we recommend training employees as to what ‘doing the right thing’ really means. If that’s not possible, perhaps it’s time to look at your hiring process.

Thinking like a startup can make your event, and event staff, look good, perform better and cost less. What company wouldn’t want that?