It goes without saying that as business leaders we enforce rules that "go without saying." You know what I'm talking about-those unwritten rules like "The customer is always right" and "Hire only A players." These apparently obvious business success rules aren't necessarily written in corporate guidelines or HR manuals, but they obviously work. Or at least that's what we thought.
There are five common unwritten rules that almost every business follows with the best of intentions. The outcomes, though, might be disastrous:
1. The customer is always right
This unwritten rule has taken many a business down the path of a costly, time-eating, "make it right" nightmare. The rule dictates that every customer who makes a demand, regardless of who is making it and how unreasonable it is, gets what they want.
Often the biggest most unreasonable demands are made by the most unfit customers. Ultimately, you cannot adequately service a customer who isn't a match for your business, and you shouldn't try. In fact, the most successful companies focus on servicing only a specific type of clients and actively filter out those customers who are not a fit-even referring them to alternative vendors.
Add a new written rule to your corporate guidelines that states "the right customer is always right."
2. Put new hires on automatic probation
You hire that new employee and welcome them on board-with an automatic 90-day probation. The concept of this unwritten rule is that new employees need to prove to the company that hiring them was not a mistake.
Talk about starting off on the wrong foot! The first experience that new employee has with your business is a veiled form of punishment. Top that with a first day of filling out paperwork, ordering their own business cards and eating lunch alone.
Never forget that the first impression is the most important. A new employee should be welcomed with celebration and encouraged with "show us what you can do," instead of "prove to me I didn't make a mistake hiring you."
3. Promote top performers to managers
Your top sales rep is crushing it, outperforming all the other sales reps combined. So you follow the unwritten rule of promoting her into a management position. She fails miserably in the new role. She loses and your company loses.
Just because people are great in one role does not mean they will be great in another, more senior one. In fact, most individuals have super strengths in one area alone. When an employee shows extreme talent in an area, it should be cultivated and used accordingly.