This week

Policies that get the work done.


Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness 


the Wednesday Whisper

Workplaces as a community

Being in community these weeks in Greece, I have been observing and experiencing trust in action. We participate in taking on tasks and being on a rota and, for the most part, it all works seamlessly. Now and again there are questions about fairness, for example whether someone took full responsibility or left others to complete and this brings up how we hear each other, how we present our points and what assumptions and interpretations we make that are presented as fact. The DRM comes into its own when these kinds of issues arise and there is a lot employers can learn from what we are doing here.

It got me thinking about workplaces and policies. Policies are a way for an organisation to uphold a set of values, explain those values to the group and set a tone for the way the group will be together. Procedures are the way in which those policies can be enacted in order to uphold the values. But some policies breed resentment. The ones listed here are, to me, real examples of poor policy making because they suggest that the group are incapable of ‘doing the right thing’ and must be legislated against:

  • Restricting internet and email use to the point where it affects the ability to do the job
  • Banning mobile phone use
  • Banning personal items such as photographs from desks
  • Handling attendance, time off and breaks in a preventative way
  • Limiting bathroom breaks

Of course, we could do a week long workshop on why some employees abuse trust and take advantage but my point here is that leaders have responsibility for creating the conditions in which people will make the choice to contribute willingly rather than act out their resentments.

Here’s a way in which those same policies could be shared which accepts our need to feel trusted:

  • The internet and email is a tool to do the job assigned to you so we ask you to observe your usage in alignment with the values of honesty, transparency, respect and inclusion.
  • We ask you to be mindful of how mobile phone use can disturb others, distract from the tasks assigned to you and interrupt the flow so acting with integrity on usage benefits all of us.
  • We know that self-expression is an important need and we ask you to balance this with regard for diversity and inclusion when considering how you meet that need in your workplace.
  • We have pre-agreed obligations on attendance, time off and breaks and we make best efforts to balance the needs of the organisation with your personal needs. We ask you to do the same.
  • Using the bathroom is a function of being human. This is not the same as taking a break. We ask you to distinguish between the two and refer to the previous policy around breaks.

When policies are presented in this way, it leaves room for dialogue, accepts that no system is perfect, allows us to examine fairness, integrity and abuse as a continuous process of improvement and gives space for special cases where the value of the contribution can be measured alongside a temporary situation that necessitates some tolerance. For example, an employee’s childcare has broken down and they will need to come in late for the next two days balanced alongside the fact that the same employee has, on many occasions, worked late to meet a tight deadline.

Maria’s Midweek Mindfulness

I’m thinking about trust and how we have conversations when trust is in short supply.

The Wednesday Whisper

How do you behave when there is trust and when trust is broken?


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