Many of us have uttered those very words. Something happened, a single event with a single employee, and suddenly we need a new policy. What causes that to happen? Most often it is fear. Fear by a leader to confront a single situation without some type of policy or regulation to base it on. Why are leaders afraid and what causes them to run to HR every time they have an employee behavior problem either seeking a policy or wanting HR to handle the problem for them? Most often because they never learned how to address these types of issues on their own. Perhaps they felt they were not empowered, perhaps they wrongfully believed that anything they do must be covered by policy, regulation or law.
The bottom line is simply this…they lack the skills necessary to address the issue in an appropriate manner. There are several ways this can be handled. One is the direct confrontation – “John, don’t you ever do that again or you are fired.” Effective in that you got Johns attention. Ineffective in that you solved nothing, John may have no clue what he did wrong, and no path for correction is identified. Another direction is to ignore it and hope it goes away.
Many managers use an avoidance strategy in the absence of policy, law or regulation for the specific act. A more appropriate process is ask yourself the following questions: