We’re continuing our series of HR ghosts and ghouls and tonight it’s the turn of the mummy. When I think of mummies I think of them in the classic horror pose, arms oustretched, shambling along bound in tape and bandages. And it’s the tape which binds these soulless creatures that I want to focus on. The bureaucratic tape which binds organisations and lashes them to the stumbling shambling gait of the mummy.
I enjoyed reading a great conversation started by Ben Eubanks over at UpstartHR recently all about whether companies should have a working through lunch policy. Seriously, lunch policy. I recommend you pop over and read the whole piece, to get you started here’s a snippet provided by Steve Browne:
My question is “Why is the HR person looking to add yet another policy?”
If the behavior isn’t working, or if the employee isn’t doing work, then just TALK TO THEM !!
Sorry to yell, but it blows me away that HR has fallen into such a deep hole when it comes to writing policies. We forget that there are many employees who work for us and not just a few. Most policies are written because of the behavior of a few folks.
And what about dress code policy? I was talking about this with a couple of HR practitioners just recently and one of them said “dress code policy is a great way of showing folks that you don’t trust them with even the most basic things”. Unnecessary bureaucracy and more tape round the mummy. I went to agree and before I could do so – the third member of our conversation violently disagreed. “You have to tell people what to wear or they will just wear what they like”. All I could manage was a head slap of disdain. I slapped my own head, not theirs.
Sometimes my work involves carrying out stakeholder engagement audits. As part of these audit my associates and I talk with lots of staff, and the stories they tell us about unnecessary policies written and implemented to “legislate” against things that haven’t happened and in all likelihood won’t, are eye boggling. I can’t go into detail but things like no alcohol and no toasters (yup – no toasters) are often used to bind the policy mummy even tighter. The tighter the policy, the greater the lack of trust, and this lack of trust is a root cause of people feeling disengaged from their employer. It is damaging and unnecessary.
You may think, I can run faster than the mummy, it’ll never catch me. And you forget – the mummy is undead. It will shamble on until you can run no more and then, and only then will it wrap you in its lunch/dress code/alcohol/toaster bandages. And you will suffocate.
Despite my punk roots I’m not advocating anarchy, and I appreciate the requirement for policy. But surely policy should be stuff that enables work, makes things happen, not stuff that binds and chokes the life from the company?
I’d love to hear from you if you have ever seen mummy HR stumbling along your corridors binding folk with its policy bandages.
photo c/o publicinsomniac