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Scary Workplace: Phantom Policies and Rules

Scary Workplace: Phantom Policies and Rules

I don’t mean to frighten anyone. But there may be phantoms lurking about your halls. Don't look now but there may be ghost, goblins, phantom policies and secret rules creeping about in your organization [que evil laugh] Bwahahaha!

Phantom policies or rules are undocumented and not widely known expectations that serve only to attack the unsuspecting employee.


Picture this scene.

You are humming along performing and doing what you think is expected and…[que scary music] suddenly out of nowhere the phantom rules jump out when you least expect it [que screaming in terror]! Your heart beats wildly in your chest as you realize you are suddenly in trouble. The phantom rule chases you through the dark stormy night as you stumble running through the woods alone [Ahhh!!] Pretty scary huh?

Here's the thing, that might not be far from reality of what is happening in your workplace today.

If the following sounds familiar you may have a phantom policy or rule problem lurking about your hallways.

  • Relatively new employees seem confused or frustrated about what is expected of them.
  • There seems to be different expectations for different people or departments.
  • There is a lack of trust throughout the organizational culture.
  • There is a lack of transparency.
  • There is a lack of consistency.
  • Change doesn’t stick.

unspoken rules

Are you a leader who often wonders why people don't follow whatever standard you thought you established? It doesn't take a mad scientist to figure out people simply cannot read your mind let alone remember every whim you may have muttered at one time.

So who are you going to call?

Don’t delay. Don’t give excuses.

Get those expectations documented and widely communicate them. Be sure the new or seemingly unknown rules are cascaded to all levels.

Don’t forget to share critical expectations with your brand new employees. It doesn’t hurt to refresh your existing employees on them too before its too late and the turnover or disengagement ghoul over takes them!

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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