This weeks Online Human Resources post is entitled 7 Stupid Office Rules and attempts to name 7 of the silliest rules an office can instate, and offers solutions.  

What dumb rules have you seen at your office, and how can you avoid them?

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Cell phones at work. Everybody in the semi developed world has a phone on their desk that has a number for family and health issues etc. Believe it or not before cell phones people had dr. Appointments, kids checking in after school etc. there have been problems with too many personal calls at work and rules about those since the telephone became a fixture on a desk.

When kids started texting and adults joined the parade it became too easy for people to spend incredible amounts of time texting or emailing about nothing because we are over connected 24/7. And don't tell me that all those trips to the bathroom didn't increase right along with the burning need to check texts, email and Facebook. Walk in the ladies room almost anywhere and cell phones are going off like the last train from gun hill is about to leave the station. Schools had to say no cell phones. Now employers are having to do it because adults have become addicted to the instant gratification of being constantly connected. Nobody is trying to cut you off from your BFF or ruin your life because you can't tweet where you are going to have lunch or how bored you are today. Whole cities are banning driving while texting or talking on a cell.
The customer may not always be right but they sign the front of the check. If a customer is rude or abusive escalate the call or the interaction. What is the biggest complaint in all industries right now in our society..customer service. How many times a week do all of us try to contact someone to resolve a problem only to get an idiot on the phone or some untrained kid. Giving more discretion to employees on the front line to deal with an irrate customer or even a nut is a recipe for disaster.

Example, my neighbor got a waterbill for 3,000.00. She called the city and was told that they would be happy to send someone to reread the meter in the next 30 days but she would need to pay the bill. Neighbor stated that she didn't have 3k to pay and wait 30 days to get it back or have it credited to her water bill for the next six years,so asked to speak to a supervisor. She was told that no supervisors were available the person on the phone was authorized to resolve any billing issues, the bill would need to be paid in ten days, they would reread the meter within 30
days. Neighbor got irrate told the person that was stupid. Person on the phone told her she was being abusive and hung up on her.

Neighbor called the public utility commission and filed a formal complaint. The next day the city manager contacted her, apologized for the billing error that billed her for 96000,00 gallons instead of 960. He further apologized for the actions of the person who had hung up on her and mentioned that they had made a mistake by authorizing front line employees to resolve all customer complaints.

Part of this problem is that employees are many times not trained or paid to be able to resolve problems so if they are then certainly give them more latitude but most are not. The risk of not taking the attitude that the customer is always right can result in not only loss of business but also formal complaints and or in the extreme a lawsuit, even a frivolous one is expensive to defend.

LOL!!!  Sandra - you NAILED it!  This happens in every company, every day, for every rule (I even had one manager tell me they thought the no guns or weapons policy on the grounds unfairly discriminated against their constitutional rights...are you freaking KIDDING me!!!!)  Grow up people, stop being whiny, stop thinking you're entitled to everything, and show respect for the multiple people you work with, including HR who has to be your freaking babysitter all day.  And, even when employees are acting like a 2 year old throwing a tantrum, I have to remain professional and be the adult, and I can't treat you like a 2 year old, cause then you'll be complaining about that and we'll waste another 10 hours.  Happy Monday to All!

Sandra McCartt said:

Let's take music. Bertha sits in the cube next to Mildred. Bertha listens to Christian music all day. Mildred is an atheist. Bertha doesn't play it loud but because the cubes are fairly open Mildred hears it all day and it irritates her that as an atheist she hears about Jesus all day. Ok, you move Mildred to another cube and Clyde next to Bertha. Clyde plays rap all day not too loud but Bertha thinks rap is an instrument of the devil so she turns hers up just one decibel. In the meantime Mildred complains her new cube is right under the ac vent, she now believes she was moved to an uncomfortable location because she is an atheist so she was targeted.
Bertha is called in and told she has to turn her music down. She does but now Bertha complains that she is being forced to hear music that has offensive words so she is targeted because she is a Christian.

Clyde is like the Honeybadger, he don't give a s%#t. He kind of thinks it's funny that Bertha is throwing a fit so he plays some really raunchy rap with the N word. Bertha is major league offended so she tells Keisha. Keisha makes it a point to walk into Clyde's cube to check it out. Sure enough the N word ,ho and biatch are keeping ole Cylde working at a fever pitch. Keisha is on her way to HR to complain that Clyde is playing racially offense music that she heard when she went to pick up a report. She demands that something be done.

Ok some people work better with music. Mildred is mad, Bertha is mad, Keisha is furious and Clyde is about to be counseled that racially offensive rap is inappropriate so he will know that Keisha complained. Now the Honeybadger is hot. How's that workin for you so far?

Let's do this. Anybody who wants to listen to music while they work use earphones. Great idea until none of them can hear their phone buzz, supervisor goes loooking for somebody because they aren't answering and finds five zombies plugged in working away who can't be reached by phone.
Supervisor heads to HR and says, " enough of this, we don't pay people to zone out to music all day. Everybody is irritated, earphones , they don't answer their phones. No more music in my group. Done. Now they all blame each other and the supervisor for a stupid rule.

But it doesn't stop there. Everybody in the legal dept happens to like classical so legal and Beethoven are humming along nicely until Bertha, Mildred, Keisha and the Honeybadger find out ( which takes at most two days) that legal doesn't have a no music rule ,off they go to HR.
Legal is told since purchasing has a no music rule they have to send Ludwig to the showers.

Head of legal is not happy when told that the head of purchasing insisted on the rule because of problems in his dept. so it goes to the executive committee where it takes about five minutes for someone to say. This is ridiculous we have a business to run. We are not paying people listen to music, if they can't work without music they aren't the type of employees we need. No music at work we have wasted enough time with this. It is difficult enough for people to work together without making music at work an issue.

And if you think this is a ridiculous story. That is exactly what happened at a medical services corp. in Dallas with 400 employees. Sometimes what appears to be a stupid rule is the only rule that can be made because all people are different so rules have to apply to everyone to keep differences from becoming a problem for everyone on some level.
Oh trust me Megan, I live in the heart of "guns and god country". The weeping, wailing and knashing of teeth can be heard daily when the rule is made that the red neck programmer can't bring his truck with 30-06 and the shotgun in his gun rack on to the company parking lot and the devout are not allowed to have their Wed. Bible study meet in company cafeteria.

It is a baptism of fire to have anybody under 35 in HR. they simply don't know yet how many "personal agendas" people bring to work with them. Stupid rules are in the eye of the beholder and most people have at least two eyes. Then there is the wonderful world of what exactly is sexual harassment.

I would take gas before I signed on to be an HR person. A totally thankless job in my opinion.

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