You don’t need a union to discover a dumb policy



DO YOU ever wonder why some managers keep on dishing out the most stupid corporate policies here on earth? On top of my list is one company that prohibits its employees from sleeping inside the office during lunch break. Another one is when at least four managers are required to approve a one-day worker’s application for a vacation leave. Isn’t the line supervisor’s approval more than enough?

I’m proximate to one medium-size company whose CEO insists that he conducts the final interview of applicants for a clerical post in the sales department. Doesn’t he trust his managers to do their job? Why is he micro-managing his deputies? Or doesn’t this CEO see the value of his executive time so as not to waste it to belabor a minor issue, and be concerned instead with strategic things?

And speaking of the hiring process, it puzzles me no end when employers require a tremendous amount of documents from job applicants during the first stage of screening. Isn’t it best to require these basic documents only from the top three shortlisted candidates?

Further, even “seasoned” people managers continue to sing broken notes of hallelujah to the perfect attendance award, which is an administrative nightmare to companies with thousands of employees. In the first place, why reward people for reporting for work every day and on time? Same thing for giving a grace period to tardy employees.

On the lighter side, when the world was young, I was privy to a bank policy requiring only ugly tellers to handle withdrawals, while beautiful tellers were almost perpetually assigned to service only deposits. Of course, that was the time when multi-tasking was not yet in vogue.

The list of such useless, senseless policies can go on and on, if you care to pay attention to details.

In a March 14, 2017 article in Fast Company, author Ryan Holmes, also the CEO of Hotsuite – a social media management system with more than 10 millions users, cites the story of how an employee wanted to gift a customer with a T-shirt designed with the company logo.

“There was nothing special about this particular shirt. It was an ordinary, 100 percent cotton crew neck. But by the time this employee got approval – factoring in his own time and everyone else’s up the organizational chart who had to weigh in before signing off on the request – the cost of this T-shirt had ballooned to at least $200.”

Of course, you have to compute the monetary value of manhours spent by those involved in the approval process of procuring that shirt. Do the math. Can you imagine the amount of losses if only you care to multiply the losses with the number of workers who are similarly situated?

In his article entitled “Why this CEO Appointed an Employee to Change Dumb Company Rules,” Holmes cites why he created the post of “czar of bad systems” who has the authority to identify and fix processes that are making the company uncompetitive and lose money in the process.

Hotsuite is not exactly the pioneer of such idea of correcting stupid management policies. Holmes admits there was the case of e-commerce giant Shopify, which actually has an official incumbent performing the task of “Director of Getting Shit Done,” complete with a team under him that is tasked with similar efforts.

Back here at home, in my recent encounter with one major department store, I was surprised to learn that a Citibank Mastercard holder need not sign the charge slip for a purchase worth less than P2,000. Simply put, an “endo” cashier is authorized to accept a sale without a customer’s signature.

However, it contradicts the experience of an acquaintance who works in the same store. He claims that a petty cash purchase of one ream of bond paper worth P300 needs the signature of one of the senior vice presidents. If he’s not around, the signature of two vice-presidents is imperative.

Russian-American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982) said: “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” And clearly, in my above-stated example, one of them is wrong, at least from the perspective of the customer or employee.

A bad manager can be beaten by a bad system. Regardless of your MBA degree or what-have-you, if you don’t know how to correct little things, then sooner than you can imagine, these can lead to major losses.

So, why push the workers to unionize to correct imprudent management policies? Instead, purge command-and-control managers whose actions contribute to company losses.

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to or follow him Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter for his random management thoughts on Elbonomics.


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