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Four Ways Teaching too Many Company “Rules” Can Hurt Your Training


47008110_sIn the Breakthrough Ideas webinar that Anthony Amos gave for us at Tortal Training last summer, he observed that using training to teach too many company “rules” can harm training. Anthony is a top former Australian rugby player, a successful entrepreneur, and now a sought-after trainer.

And we think he has a point, because training that places too much emphasis on teaching people to obey company rules can become uninteresting, unproductive . . . or worse. Here are some reason why.

Rules Are Often Negative

If you stop to think about it, most company rules spell out things that people are not allowed to do rather than the things that they are encouraged to do. If our friend Anthony is right, even a small dose of them can dampen the mood of training sessions and kill enthusiasm.

Rules Stifle Creativity

Vibrant training encourages people to come up with new ideas that have the potential to improve what they are already doing, what your company is doing, and more. When rules discourage employees from innovating, expanding the scope or their jobs, or serving people better, that obviously has a negative impact on your company and its success.

Rules Can Be Demotivating and Talk Down to People

In some companies, new employees are told that they can only look at their cellphones during work breaks, and that there is no eating at desks. All those things might be true, but they don’t set out a welcome mat for new hires.

The Wrong Rules Limit Trainees’ Autonomy

Some stores have rules that salespeople can only issue customers a store credit when they return merchandise. And items bought on sale cannot be returned at all. But with some thought, those retailers can replace limiting rules with others that encourage people to make their own decisions and act autonomously. For example, “If a customer request makes sense to you, go ahead and fulfill it without asking your manager.”

But what if you have rules and required procedures you need to teach?

One good option is to communicate them in an employee handbook. Another is to deliver them in short online training lessons instead of making them part of training on other subjects. Training should teach concrete skills, but also educate, energize, challenge, motivate, and expand the way people think.