If we all followed the rules all of the time, then nothing would ever change. Yet, rules at work and the way we work change all the time. Obviously, we do not go around breaking rules all the time or there would be chaos in the workplace. So, how does it happen and when are the perfect times to break the rules at work?
1. When you are not operating under strict guidelines
If you have a boss that is big on “end results” and “deadlines” more than “how you do it”, this is a perfect time to experiment with breaking some rules. Leaders will often give staff the opportunity to show their initiative, creativity, and ambition by letting them work on projects without strict guidelines.
They want to see how you arrive at the end result and what you decided to do on your own. There will always be the important rules you can never break. But you are usually aware of those rules long before being given the chance to operate under loose guidelines.
2. When you are given permission to run with a project
If your boss tells you something along the lines of, “Why don’t you just show me what you can come up with”, use this as the chance to break rules, take ownership of your work, and build up your importance to the company. Break rules when you see more potential for career growth, both for you and for the company. Use it as a chance to make yourself irreplaceable at a company.
3. When you clearly know there is a better opportunity
If you see your team is about to miss out on a great opportunity, this is a perfect time to break the rules. Yes, there is risk involved but you are convinced beyond all doubt that a better opportunity will be lost because people are stuck in their ways.
This can also be your chance to prove it is ok to break the rules once in awhile and you know when to do it. You can show breaking the rules a bit is beneficial for everyone.
Important: This scenario applies to smaller things at work. For example, switching a deadline or skipping a meeting to work on something you know is more important. If you have the authority to make serious changes to your staff and company without permission, it would be a good idea to get all the information required to make an educated decision first.
4. When old rules are outdated and obsolete
In fast-moving companies, a policy that exists today may be changed a month later. The company you are in shifts focus constantly and you have a new set of company guidelines every day.
For you, it means the company guidelines that were important a month ago may no longer apply. And when they become obsolete, this opens up doors for you to explore how the old rules will be broken.
Of course, you should never do anything too crazy. Find out why your company is changing and what the new rules will be. Make sure you are not just repeating yourself.
5. When you get permission
It sounds funny, but people do it. They ask for permission to break the rules! It sounds something like this:
- “Would you mind if I gave this the old college try and show you how it turns out later?”
Before doing this, you have to make the case that they will benefit from some rule breaking. Companies are not big on letting employees run wild whenever they ask. It has to be a calculated move. Show the evidence that the time is right for some rules to be broken.
By getting the supervisor’s permission, you now have someone who backed you up and will be held responsible if your new rules fail. In your career, taking risks is necessary for growth. Just remember that your manager will be seen as a failure as will you because you had his or her permission.
6. When extenuating circumstances call for it
Rules are broken all the time whenever there is a collapse of a structured way of doing things. For example, an office building loses power and Internet during a hurricane and one person in the office discovers a faster, cheaper, easier way to provide Internet for the office.