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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on July 23, 2008

This week, the Globe and Mail published an article that caught my eye. The article, "Go ahead, kids, eat your cake first" discusses ways to make your kids eat a healthy balanced diet, but it also brings to the reader's attention the importance of balancing rules and freedoms. Companies who are fairly successful and have low employee turnover are masters of this.

In an organization it is important to have a foundation of rules, regulations and best practices; however it is equally important to give your employees the freedom to do things the way they feel is best. By providing freedoms in certain areas of work, you are demonstrating your trust in that employee. They feel valued within the organization and often it will result in them enjoying coming into work. A happier employee spurs a positive and enjoyable corporate culture which helps attract top talent. And the spiral continues.

Of course there are limitations to what you can give an employee freedom to do, especially in certain industries or for certain roles. You may not want to let all of your employees report their work in any form they like (as it could result in a very unorganized, time consuming process to sort through and record), but allowing them to decide when to submit it (within a time period) is doable. Another great example seen within some organizations is "flexible working hours". This supports that it is not always the quantity of working hours you record, but quality of the work you do. If the employee can finish all of their work and it meets the levels of expectations by 3pm, or prefers to work their 50 hours between Monday and Thursday, then why force them to sit at their desk until 5 pm doing nothing, or coming in on a Friday if they do not need to?

Some other points that the article touches upon that can be related back to running a great company are:

  1. Letting your children have treats once in a while - Rewarding employees for their work is important and can easily be forgotten or pushed to the side when things become hectic. A great, easy to implement example of this is the "Casual Fridays" several organizations opt to put into practice.
  2. Natural resistance - If new guidelines are put into place, or organizational change takes place, it is natural that some people will resist. Before making changes to something the company has just put in place, give them time to adjust to new initiatives. Acknowledge that some changes may be harder to adjust to for certain people.
  3. Parents should eat what they are giving their kids- If you want your employees to follow certain rules, you should too. It is hard for employees to see the importance of attending meetings, if their boss always shows up late or never attends.

While this article is by no means meant to be a business article, it shows how simple aspects of everyday life can be applied and relevant to the business world.

Who knew we could learn so much from our kids?


*It is acknowledged that the amount of freedoms an employer can give to their employee is restricted by many factors including the industry, size of the company and the roles the employee holds

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