On Pesky Little Rules

So let's say you make a decision. You put a lot of thought into the decision and you are comfortable with it. After making and implementing the decision, you later discover that there is a rule (for lack of a better word) that indicates you probably should not have made the decision that you did. You made the decision because, all things considered, it was the right thing to do. Yet, the decision was not consistent the rule.

What do you do?

Question the Rules

Decision makers that always defer to the rules, without question, are falling down on the job. The compliant rule-follower in me appreciates the foundation and guidance rules can provide and knows well that doing what's right may absolutely mean sticking to the letter of the law. However, that is not always, or often, the case. As decision makers, we get to spend a lot of time operating in the gray. Heck, if everything was black and white, we would not have any decisions to make. How boring!

The challenge for HR decision makers is to question the rules. Why? We cannot provide the service the organization or our customers expects or add the value we expect if we don’t. So before you blindly change a decision because of a pesky rule, take a closer look at that bugger and ask a few questions:

  • Does not following it jeopardize safety?
  • Does not following it violate a law, statute or something else legal?
  • If not for the rule, would you be questioning the value of your decision?
  • If not for the rule, would you make the same decision for a similar situation?

Do What's Right

There are differences between a course of action that violates a statute or creates a precedent you don't want to set and one that requires a change in the way things have been done or breaks new ground. We need to be able to distinguish between the two.

With each and every decision you make, you have an opportunity to make a difference.

So back to the decision you made to later find out it was not consistent with a rule. You ran through the questions and determined that the decisions does not jeopardize safety, does not violate a law, you are not questioning the value of the decision, and yes, you would decide the same in a similar circumstance. 

What do you do?

Question the rules, do what's right and let it go man, just let it go.