Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can You Trust Your Team Members To Use Good Judgement?

Can You Trust Your Team Members To Use Good Judgement?Nordstrom, the US department store, has the best social media policy in the world – and it created it long before social media existed. Here's the relevant part from the employee manual:

Rule #1: Use your best judgement at all times.
There are no additional rules.

When I say this is from the manual, that’s true. In fact, the entire employee manual goes like this:

We're glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Rule #1: Use best judgement in all situations. There are no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.

You might say it's impossible to create an employee manual that gives people so much leeway. After all, there are procedures to follow, policies to uphold, legislation to meet, and rules to enforce.

That might be true, but these are generally constraints imposed by HR, legal and other administrative roles in your organisation. What about just thinking about the people – in other words, your own team members? Are you confident enough in their judgement that you could trust them?

If not you're not alone. Most leaders and managers – if they are being honest – would admit they can't yet trust their team members to that extent.

If you have children, you know this intuitively. Young children don't know about the dangers of electricity, so you protect all your wall sockets when they start crawling. They don't understand why it's rude to interrupt conversations, so you have to teach them. They don't know how easy it is to drown in a small amount of water, so you build a fence around your swimming people.

Of course, your team members aren't children, but some organisations treat them as if they are – and are then surprised when they (metaphorically) stick a knife in an electrical socket or fall into the swimming pool.

Your people are smart, talented, savvy citizens who already know how to exercise good judgement in other areas of their life. They raise families, operate heavy machinery to get to your office, organise events, and manage dozens of other complex situations every day. Is it possible that they might be able to do the same at work – if you just gave them the chance?


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