There are all sorts of written – and unwritten – rules for business. Although I’m not certain they are documented anywhere, you probably all know what I mean.
Here are 4 common business rules that I break and why:
1. The customer is always right.
In my opinion, this just isn’t true because it would imply that the customer is “never” wrong. I’m comfortable communicating this in our client presentations. Our sales professionals used to cringe when I said this, and some still do. But step back for a moment and think of your own customers. Are they always right? Perhaps you have encountered situations where you questioned whether you’re getting the whole story and you know it’s never going to be their fault.
When an issue does arise, our job is to get the facts and professionally address it. You may want to read my previous blog on customer conflict resolution. It’s true the customer is usually right, but not always right. However, they always deserve an opportunity to make it right, and if you can’t come to a reasonable resolution, you need to be prepared to move on.
2. Don’t hire family.
Some companies have created policies that explicitly prevent the company from hiring employee family members. But I’ve found this to be a good hiring source and not the problem people think it is. We encourage our employees to recommend family and friends who they think would be a good fit for the job and our culture. They know firsthand our expectations.
There are many examples of employees at all levels of the company who have family working here. I see it as a reflection of the good workplace we provide. The advantage for the business is not only that we get a strong referral source, but also a built-in mentoring system. There’s almost an unwritten commitment that the employees will help their family members do well. They do not want to see them fail.
Unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t work; but then we handle it professionally like we would for anyone else and it really has not been a problem.
3. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Our best opportunities for business growth have come because we have looked into something that’s not broke. Take our copier business for example. The division had been performing very well financially and we could have left things just as they were. But we opted to add document management, production print and managed print services in recent years. These additions have helped transform our copier offering to one of the best in the industry.
If we subscribed to the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” philosophy, we certainly would not be the high-performing company we are today. Growth requires businesses to critically evaluate what they may be doing well and still look for opportunities for improvement.
4. Don’t mix business with pleasure.
I break this rule almost every week. It’s not uncommon for me to have employees and their spouses at my house, my cabin or a social event. I work with some great people. They are typically high performers and a lot of fun outside of the office, too. Many of my friends are co-workers and some of my best friends work for the company.
Business is personal and as I engage with employees in social settings, I get an opportunity to see their full personality. It also provides a platform for them to share concerns or ideas about the workplace in an informal setting. The benefit of developing these personal relationships allows me to not only get to know the employees and their families better, but it also develops a stronger tie to the company.
There is a place for rules in the business world; I just don’t subscribe to all of them. Successful leaders recognize when it’s okay to break the rules.