Live and Design Based on the 99% Rule – Life Rule #3

Rule 3 - 99 rule 4x6I had accepted a position as VP of Customer Delivery with a software company and knew that I was there to address major service delivery and employee satisfaction issues.  In the process of completing round tables with the staff, I learned that one of the key “itches” was a general feeling that management felt everyone was out to stiff the company.  There was no trust between the employees and management.

Their specific example of this was that recent changes had been made to the time tracking and reporting system where the employee was automatically logged in and out of the system based on when they logged in and out of the phone system.  In addition, if they made a mistake in logging in and out of the phone system, they were not allowed to make appropriate corrections to their timecard, only the managers could make changes.

So let’s look at how this works for the average technical support engineer.  I come into work in the morning and log into the phone system to start work.  So far so good.  At lunch I have to log out of the system before going to lunch and because I have a meeting immediately following lunch, I forget to log back in and immediately go to the meeting.  I get back to my desk and realize my very honest mistake, but I am not allowed to make the correction, nor is my immediate supervisor. I have to go up two layers and request that my supervisor’s manager makes the correction. The message is very clear, management does not trust you or your supervisor to be honest, in fact my employees felt as if they were being called, “Liar, Liar!”

When I followed up with HR and the time system administration team, I learned that there had been 2 employees, out of 850 US employees, who had been padding their time cards and had been caught by their supervisors in the audit process.  So the team decided they could keep that from happening again by locking all employees and supervisors out of the system and only give managers the authority to make time card changes. Take note of, “…the road to hell is paved my good intentions…”

The result was that the employees and supervisors felt they were being called, “Liar!”, every time an honest mistake was made and the amount of time the managers spent on honest time card corrections increased to 10% of their work time.  No one was happy.

This is where I developed my “99% rule”.  It is based on my belief and experience that 99% of the world’s population tries to do the right thing and are not intentionally trying to screw anybody over. But that there is the 1% that is acting purposely.  To focus only on the 1% and put rules in process in place as if all people act with intentional harm is insulting to the honest people out there and costly to the business.  This does not mean I have become, “wussy” in my response to bad behavior.  I have developed a stronger sense of tolerance for the, “honest”, mistake and NO tolerance for purposeful deceit.

Fire immediately if it is purposeful and train them if it is not.  Lack of ethics is un-coachable, but the rest is worth your trust and investment. You will be amazed at the loyalty you get in return.


Aunt Harriet