The Semco Style 5 Principles to transform the way we work
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Norms And Boundaries

Think before you act

Intuition, luck, mistakes, serendipity—there you have four vital business concepts that every manager should know. – Ricardo Semler

In a Nutshell

Companies are often in a hurry to move forward that they don’t realize the stress and problems that employees have to handle alone everyday. A good way to deal with this is by establishing norms, boundaries and using common sense.

What do these three things essentially mean? That an employee, when faced with any situation, must use logic and a general set of rules that the company provides, to handle them. While the idea is to assume that they would use their common sense, it’s important to realise that common sense is subjective. It depends on each person’s own values and life experience.

For example, when there is a need to travel, some people may prefer to fly in economy class even if its a 10 hour flight while others, like a business executive who has flown only business class until then, would only fly business because that makes more sense to them. While one person may be looking at the cost, the other may look at the comfort and the fact that they will be rested and comfortable enough to attend a meeting even after a long flight.

For the above example, the idea is that the company creates a norm or a boundary around travel expenses. Say, if the flight is under four hours then everyone flies economy and anything over that warrants a business class ticket. Creating this norm makes sure everyone gets the same benefits and no one feels like someone else is given more preference over them.

Since situations like this are very common and tend to arise on a day-to-day basis, it’s important to establish these norms. But understand that flexibility is a necessity and that no boundary or norm should be set in stone. Instead, put them in place to make sure employees handle situations efficiently without their work getting affected.

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