Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The King Is I

I have several axioms of business. One is "poor systems generate more systems." Another is that usually the person who makes the policy is the first to break the policy.

When you're in charge, it's very tempting to change the policy when you make a mistake.

Recently, our president had us change a policy because he wasn't sure what the policy was last year. He had been in a discussion with an employee, who was about to retire. She asked if she'd still get the bonus distributed at the end of January even though she wouldn't be here. Thinking that the policy was to prorate the bonus for retirees, he told her that she would get one.

Unfortunately, that was not the policy. We hadn't given a bonus to anyone who wasn't here at the end of January, and employed at the end of the previous year. Because the president said that we would give her a bonus, we have to go through extra work, system gyrations, to cut her a check. And give her a W-2 at the end of this year.

If another staff member had made a "promise" like that, the president would have made the person admit the mistake. We wouldn't be going through the extra work.

However, if you're the king, you can change the rules when you want. If you're not the king, you gotta suck it up and apologize.

That's not right.

No one is above the law. Anyone who makes a mistake has to make amends. Not change the rules so that it's not a mistake anymore. Whether you're the head of the company or a middle manager, admit the mistake. Move on. Be accountable. Everyone has to. Why should you be less mature than those at the bottom of the organization?

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