Policies… What Policies?!?

A reader writes….

Hello Anita,

I’m in a tight spot and need your advice. I work in a shared building, same company but different departments within the same building. I am having a difficult time explaining why company policies apply to my team but aren’t being respected by other departments. Dress code violations… bringing kids to work… loud music – just a sense of lack of work and unprofessionalism.

I am constantly being asked why policies only apply to us and not to the other locations within the same company. My response is always; while I can’t control other teams and other departments I must follow the policies here and ensure we are in regulation. Makes me sound like a jerk, and I feel it hard to compete as the other departments then discuss with my team how I choose the rules I follow. Its my choice to not allow them such liberties.

Its recently become even more difficult to control as the nonsense is getting worse and now affecting my team and the environment as a whole. Ive tried to speak to the management of those specific teams and well I’m being ignored. Basically manage your team and don’t worry about mine, is the response I’m getting. The issue is its affecting us all. Now to further impact the issue I feel a sense of harassment because I am a “different” manager.

What do you suggest I do?
While I hate the thought of taking it higher when is enough, enough?

“Policies… What Policies?!?”


Dear “By the Book,”

So you’re feeling a bit like the “black sheep” on the job, huh?  Here you are trying to lead a team in a productive and professional environment… only to hear kids giggling and Zeppelin rockin’ down the hall!

This is not only creating issues between you and your fellow department managers… but it’s putting a damper on the relationships you are trying to establish with your direct reports.

Should you:

(A) Loosen up?

Loosening up is sometimes necessary – in terms of letting certain things go.  “Loosening up” in terms of throwing your beliefs, work ethic, professionalism, high standards, accountability, and expectations of your team out the window, however… is a big NO.

(B) Call in the “authorities?”

Reporting this issue and your concerns to upper management is, in my opinion, the logical and ONLY ANSWER. Does it put you in an awkward position?  It shouldn’t if handled confidentially.  Who knows, you may learn a few things from the experience.  For one thing, you’ll know, straight from the horse’s mouth, whether or not “company policies” are truly enforced.  They should be.  And they should be across ALL departments.  Individual department managers are in a position to abide by these policies and enforce them with their teams.  This will give you an opportunity to bring the situation to upper management’s attention.  Who knows – maybe they have no idea what’s going on!  And if they do (and are turning a blind eye) then see option C below…

(C) Start looking for a similar job in a work environment that better suits you?

Not knowing how long you have worked for this company, it’s difficult for me to decipher whether this conflict has been the result of new management in other departments (drastically changing the way business was conducted in the past).  Or, if you’re relatively new to this company (and accustomed to a more “traditional” professional work environments), the casual way of operating may not be right for you.  For instance, the work environment at a law firm, financial institution, or aerospace company is going to be very different than that of certain clothing manufacturers, dot-com companies, or businesses in the entertainment niche.

You may have to ask yourself, “Is this the right work environment for me? If this is the way other departments do business, can I roll with that? Or will I continue to feel outnumbered and isolated here?”

Overall, remain truthful to yourself and keep your leadership style and policies consistent. Discuss the situation with upper management (as much as I know you hate to do it), be open minded, and simply see what they say or how they respond.  That will help you determine your next move!

Please keep me posted!  In the meantime, readers… what would YOU recommend – Option A, B, or C above, or something else altogether? 

I’d also like to hear from readers who may find themselves in a similar situation but on the “employee” side of things. Are you in a department whose manager plays by the rules or under a more loosey-goosey supervisor? How do the other teams look from your vantage point?

Can’t wait to hear from you!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pravinchn
    May 01, 2012 @ 11:47:09

    Reblogged this on pravinchn.


  2. Robin
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 10:43:34

    Dear Policies…what policies,
    It can be very frustrating when policy that has been set is no longer followed. I would ask myself the following…
    1) Is the policy needed as written?
    2) If not what moderate changes can be made as compromise to the current trends?
    3) Would the company be open to the suggestion of policy change?
    4) Is the business ready for a change?
    Sometimes fighting the battle to win back policy is met with too much turbulence and “atmospheric pressures”. Sometimes it is better to bend with the changing winds and create a solution that is able to withstand the business climate changes.
    complaints are always better received when a possible solution accompanies them.
    Finally try what you feel is the best course of action but tread lightly and stand firm in what you believe to be best for both you and the company. I now this is cliche’ but make the situation a win/win for all. Good luck!


  3. John J.
    Mar 17, 2011 @ 20:31:18

    I like to believe that I was needed when I was hired. When I read these kinds of remarks (below) it makes me think about the hiring practices, and if the management has the vision to hire respectable workers. If there are rules that aren’t being followed, how did the rebellious ones get the job or keep it to begin with? I know that I have seen my supers and managers watching their teams activities. I would have to think that the managers and supers don’t really care about the professionalism of their reports. That’s really sad to hear especially in this shaky economy. Usually quality goes along with attention. My hope is that you good folks don’t work for a company that makes heart monitors, or glucose meters; how about breakfast cereal??? You see? even if you have the most boring job in the world, the customers lives could be affected. (just ask Extra Strength Tylenol about 20 years ago…) I would prefer that employees are clearly focused and determined to potentially save their customers lives through their own dedication and attention to detail. In short, I think that managements job is empowerment. If a department is being so distracting that they are placing their customers lives in jeopardy, then maybe upper management needs to change mid-management personnel. (pretty bad when “the help” has higher work standards than management) I worked for a computer manufacturer and my perspective was that company’s entire business was subject to my sense of quality and workmanship. I could have put together a bad system that “looked” great. Failed systems can loose the entire data-set. Contacts, business plans, inventory, profit/loss, etc.
    You folks just keep up the high standards and let the company try to keep up.!!
    Sorry, these kinds of reports get me on my “soapbox”… I might be their customer someday…


  4. Warren
    Mar 16, 2011 @ 11:21:59

    Option C, do not go higher up, they are aware of the situation and have done nothing. Save your soul and move on, as suggested perhaps in a “more” professional environment.

    The reason I say do not go higher up, what happens if they do crack down on all the other departments? How will you be affected, of course it will be quiet, but people are vindictive especially since they will know you were the one that started it, it will not matter if you were just following the rules, your days will be numbered and the other managers and co workers will make sure of it.

    Go find a better job and if asked on an exit interview, just tell them you did not feel that you were a good fit in their company. You could go more into it, but why, it is their company, and if that is how they want to run it, then so be it. You have to look out for your soul not theirs. Find a new home!

    Good luck!


  5. Thomas
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 12:20:01

    I worked for a company where the men had to wear suits, while the women wore pretty much whatever they wanted. Made personal calls and surfed the net. I was completely ignored and when they found I was looking for another job it they made it easier by firing me. Telling me that they were downsizing my dept. So sometimes being a good employee isn’t enough if you make waves.


  6. Kelly
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:15:04

    I worked in a similar department. My manager had the same issues with a department next door that was loud all the time while their manager was away from the office. My manager spoke up a few times but it fell on deaf ears. She felt alienated and left out. However, she tended to not address the issues of bad behavior within her own department because she hated confrontation. I felt it negated her as a leader for her team by ignoring the bad behavior. I appreciate your suggestion to find a company that better suits her morals and ethics. However, she is a single parent, has worked at this company for about 20 years and the economy is still very bad. My guess is still just put up with it and not move on since she is the sole bread winner for her family. I think this happens out in the work world a lot.


  7. Cindy Davis
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:09:15

    I like to comment about the post today about Company Policies
    I worked under similar situation, I questioned certain things that went on with the FORMER company I was teamed up on and suspended and later terminated. They made some bogus investigation asking employees that didn’t like me whether I did the charge or not and they took their word. They took my professionalism as being standoffish. I worked their for 3 years and never had any trouble with the Residents’ but they going to take the word of workers that call-in all the time, spread gossip. You know I’m glad I’m away from there although They are giving me a bad reference and its hard to explain to another employer what happen. I didn’t go to the investigation result meeting which made me seem guilty I just didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. So I say if things don’t getbetter just find somewhere else, life is too short.


    • Kelly
      Mar 15, 2011 @ 09:21:45

      I don’t know what state you are in but the bad reference issue is unacceptable. You put in a significant amount of time there by today’s work world standards so they should be held accountable. Do you have documentation about the issues? Have you thought about seeking a labor relations attorney? If you are working again, I guess it’s not an issue but you may need that reference again some day. I feel for you. I went through the same thing when I spoke my mind about bad behavior. It fell on deaf ears and my manager never supported me. I ended up leaving but have not had to use them as a reference yet. I’m hoping those old wounds heal and they just note the time I worked there. I think colleges need to offer students a class on office politics. It’s still a sandbox out there.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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