Do Your Rules Help You To Do, or Prevent You From Doing, Your Job?

imagesGRJBE3VORULES ARE MEANT TO SUPPORT an environment that empowers people to do their best while protecting them from harm, right?

Recently, the town of Taber, Alberta introduced and passed a bylaw that enforces a curfew for teens and prevents people from yelling, swearing and gathering in groups of more than three in public. Click here for the story.

I can only speculate why they introduced this controversial bylaw that has Albertans buzzing with passionate opinions on both sides of the argument. My guess would be, that it was implemented to address issues with young people and, more specifically, their behaviour in the Town of Taber.

On the one hand, it’s understandable. It makes the lives of city employees easier. On the other hand, as well as targeting the specific demographic believed to be problematic, it lumps in the majority of folks who do not cause ‘problems’ in the town.

I can’t help but wonder. Have they considered other ways to address this issue? A consultation with youth service groups to create new youth programs, perhaps? Or training bar staff to recognize when someone has had enough to drink, and to cut them off when that happens?


Creating policies and processes in organizations is often a microcosm of the same kind of methodology Taber and other municipalities implement to create an environment that allows its employees to do their jobs well. And it works; that is if the rules equip employees to do their job, but not so much, when they prevent them from doing their job well.

Sometimes policies make life more difficult for the majority of people who have not caused problems. Sometimes processes, although easier for employees, make it harder for people trying to access services or donate time and money to you.

How often do you review your policies and processes? Do they encourage an environment that allows for maximum effectiveness regarding your mission? Do they serve you or prohibit you from doing your job?

The purpose of this blog is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.

Related articles:

What do non-profits have to do to make it easier for people to help them?

Can Folks Get A Hold of You?



  1. Louise Gallagher

    I found this bylaw sad. And, in so many ways, an indication of where we, the we of the societies in which we live, do not want to address root causes and take instead the path of least resistance. The easy way out. Let’s make more laws and rules and then, we’ll have to get tough and enforce them — which creates more of the circle of least resistance where no one seeks to understand root causes and everyone is simply focused on making it all stop. Now. — oh dear… a rant! 🙂

  2. Wyrd Smythe

    It’s a fundamental security-freedom equation that’s a struggle for any society or organization. Applying the “letter of the law” is rote and easy (and often wrong and frequently overly restrictive). Applying the “spirit of the law” requires judgement and responsibility. As any group gets larger, that becomes more and more difficult since we all have our own approach to life and what we think is fair.

    As you suggest, treating our rules and policies as a living evolving thing — constantly reviewing and updating them — may be the ideal approach. It takes effort and diligence, but… well “hidebound” isn’t a compliment!

Join the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s