In every bureaucracy there are rules that probably came about for a very good reason, but they have become obsolete over time. No one in a position of power seems to have the courage to make changes, let alone rescind rules, so what you are left with are a bunch of absurd policies that you are forced to ignore with a wink, until some rigid a**hole makes an example of you.
For example, I knew someone who worked for a company that was located on a dock, and it required that they keep semaphore flags and that each employee was familiar with semaphore signaling, in case they had to communicate that way with passing vessels. In this day of marine radios and cell phones and bull horns you would be hard pressed to find a vessel captain that knew anything about semaphore, so the training kind of fell by the wayside around 1950, and no one knew where the flags had gotten to.
Then one new guy was hired as a supervisor and he had a major stick inserted into his behind. He read every single policy and procedure and decided to test everyone on semaphore. When no one knew it, he wrote everyone up. Then his boss pointed out that even he (the boss) didn’t know it, and after much general uproar, the whole situation blew over. But the rule remains on the books.
There seem to be two types of people in this world: the rigid type who abide by and enforce every single rule regardless of how absurd it is, and the flexible type who only adhere to the rules that actually make sense in the modern world. Apparently I fall into the latter group, because the former group seems tense and overly earnest to me.
I tend to think of them as people who are more interested in getting people into trouble than in having a rational and steady work environment. These are the types who won’t even remove mattress tags in the privacy of their own homes. Do they think they’re going to be raided by the mattress police? Rigid people give me the shits.
When a rule takes on a life of its own, and the only reason for it is that it’s the way it’s always been done, it’s time for change. If you cannot make that change, then you have to ask yourself why you would put so much energy into enforcing that rule. Do you, perhaps, simply delight in causing drama and conflict? If you are about to enforce a rule, first ask yourself if the breaking of this rule will in any way impact the health, safety, profit margin, productivity, reputation or integrity of the staff or the company involved. If the answer is no, perhaps it’s time for you to get over yourself.
Thoroughly modern, Millie…
[Image credit: gopixpic.com]