I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t consider entrepreneurs “rule followers” in the traditional sense. Entrepreneurs, after all, must create their own rules and interpretation of what’s right and the subsequent supporting environment.
One of the best things about being an entrepreneur is the freedom to create, to disrupt and to say yes when others would undoubtedly say no. Whether it’s creating a new product, service offering or the new norms that comprise company culture, you are expected to set a new understanding of what “right” looks like.
Establishing silly rules that restrict rather than promote creativity is a great way to send people packing. Keep the ridiculous rule count down to a minimum by avoiding the following:
1. Strict dress codes
Sure, there’s a degree of professionalism that a suit or the business casual looks convey, but if your job function is solely internally focused, such as IT, then who really cares what you wear? As long as the phone lines and computers can talk to each other.
If wearing jeans helps you do your job because there’s greater self-expression – which ultimately helps the company realise its mission – then sport the Levi’s (or your brand of choice).
2. Restricted Internet
Many companies restrict access to personal email accounts and Facebook for a number of reasons, such as to decrease the likelihood of downloading a computer virus, to corral employees along a productive route and to minimise costs associated with extra bandwidth and data.
Guess what? People need a break. They need a physical break from exercise, an emotional break from stress and pressure and a mental break from concentration.
If checking how many likes their latest tank-top selfie has earned on Facebook affords them the space they need to revitalise and be more productive, then why would you stop that?
3. Too much political correctness
I overheard a conversation the other day in which the person in question was offended at hearing the phrase S.O.B. If that’s the case, then how does she sit through movies, watch TV or socialise with human beings? I’m not saying that cursing is the accepted norm but, come on, get over it already.
4. Banning water bottles
Seriously? How is a person supposed to stay hydrated? I suppose it’s more efficient for people to get up every 20 minutes from their desks after having just finished a dentist-sized teeth-cleaning cup of water to go refill.
5. Moving office furniture
I’ve heard of some workplaces prohibiting their employees from sliding desks or moving furniture without placing a work order first. If this is the sort of “Mother, may I?” culture that screens every decision before they’re made, chances are not too many occur.
6. Facial hair
A clean shaven face is just another business standard that has carried through the times, although I’m not sure why. Facial hair doesn’t exactly impact your performance (unless it’s so long that it wakes you up in the middle of the night when you roll over – that’s a true personal story) but it does convey cleanliness and personal hygiene.
I’m all for beards and definitely the occasional disgust-ache competition (that’s when you compete to see who can grow the worst, most disgusting mustache), so the bottom line here is grow it, but don’t feed it. In other words, facial hair is fine unless there’s so much of it there are morsels from your last meal dangling aimlessly. If that’s the case, it’s time for a trim.
Personally, I’m a big believer in the spirit rather than the letter of the law. Rules, just like anything else, are open to interpretation (well, most of them).
More than anything though, the more rules you create the greater the message is: “I don’t trust you to choose the right thing, so follow these rules or else.” Is that a rule you want to spread?
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.