Tony DeMeo

A Commonsense Rule for Start Your Season

As Pre-season camps begin across the country, hopes & expectations run high. Both players & playbooks are usually both too fat. Policy manuals with rules of conduct try to control every possible infraction. Here’s some quick predictions:

1. If the players & the playbooks don’t get slimmer, your expectations will never be met. The fat must be trimmed quickly.
2. The Policy Rule Book is worthless without CONSEQUENCES. Remember DISCIPLINE is the foundation of your team’s success.

The following is an excerpt from my book Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders that further explains the role of consequences play in the success of your team this season.

The Consequences Rule

“Policies and rules don’t dictate behavior; consequences do”

Many organizations publish thick employee policy manuals or handbooks. They are full of policies for every conceivable situation. Some football teams’ players’ handbook is thicker than the Obama Healthcare bill. This is a complete waste of trees. Few, if any, read them. The only possible purpose of such elaborate policy manuals is to cover one’s rear end if a member of the team is going to get fired. You have documentation that he was told not to steal and sell company laptops.

The question is: are you really getting what you want from all those policies? Is performance improving and employee behavior what you want it to be? What effect do your policies have on production? The answer is that no policy has an effect on performance without consequence.

The more rules and policies you have, the poorer the job you’ve done hiring and training. The most important step is to get the right people on your team. If you have character people in your organization, you don’t need many policies. The foundation of every organization is PEOPLE. You can overcome anything with the right people.

The second part of the equation is proper training and orientation. It’s important to let everyone know what’s expected of them. When controversial Dennis Rodman joined the Bulls, Phil Jackson set the tone of what Rodman’s role on the Bulls was to be and what behavior was acceptable. Michael Jordan and the rest of the veteran Bulls enforced their code of conduct in practice, during games and even off the court. The result was Rodman greatly contributed to the Bull’s success and had very productive years.

Of course, a third ingredient is the behavior of the leader. The leader must set the example and be the person he wants the rest of the organization to be. (See the Lead by Deed Rule). All the policies in the world won’t develop your organization if the leader does not provide the example.

Finally when someone does break from the culture of the organization, the punishment must be swift and harsh. The harsher the punishment, the less it will be needed to be used. If someone breaks a core principle of the team and that person is not punished then more poor behavior will follow. But if the consequence is severe the behavior will not be repeated. Don’t bother having policies if there isn’t a consequence for not following them.

Conversely, when performance is exceptional it should be rewarded. If you are trying to promote team play, reward those that exhibit being a team player. This will result in more examples of team play. Always reward the behavior you want.

Consequences put teeth in your expectations, positively or negatively. The only way to affect behavior is through consequences.

Let’s work on trimming down that over-sized policy manual and improve performance and behavior.

1. Recruit people of character for your team in the first place. You don’t need divas that provide drama and distraction. As Jim Collins states in his best- selling book Good to Great: get the right people on the bus.

2. Provide training and orientation for anyone entering your organization. Educate rookies to what is expected and what won’t be tolerated. Make your code of conduct clear.

3. Only have a handful of “Core Principles” on which you organization is built on. Too many rules are only good for lawyers. Lou Holtz the former college football coach had his “Do Right” rule. Do what is right. Never have a rule that you won’t enforce; it’s a waste of time. If you have a rule on your football team that you must go to class to play, and the starting Quarterback misses class – he can’t play.

4. Be the example of the behavior you want from others. Be the code of conduct.

5. Consequences dictate behavior. Reward good behavior and punish bad behavior. Giving everyone the same reward fosters mediocrity. In Little Leagues, everyone gets a trophy which means no one gets recognized. By rewarding good performance you’ll get more good performances and attract more good performers. People want to be on a winning team. People are attracted to excellence.

Sometime this rule is considered harsh, however a leader is not out to win a popularity contest. A leader’s job is to lead the organization to accomplish its goals and objectives. A person whose performance does not fit your standard may be better suited somewhere else.

Check out my book Commonsense Rules for Everyday Leaders.