Chris Kolenda: The Fetterman Rule: How Companies Win the Struggle for Accountability

The Fetterman Rule: How Companies Win the Struggle for Accountability

Does your company struggle with accountability? 

If so, the U.S. Senate’s recent dress code drama will help you understand the struggle and take corrective action.

If you are like most people, you prefer to avoid confrontation, but you’ll do it if necessary. This preference accounts for why many leaders wait to confront deviations from standards until they become too big to ignore.

The problem with waiting, though, is that deviations become hard to break habits. You will spend significant time and energy and pay a high emotional tax trying to break a bad habit. 

You are better off nipping the problem in the bud right away when there’s no emotional attachment to the deviation, and it hasn’t become a habit.

The best case is when your employees enforce standards among each other so you don’t have to get involved. 

This is where the Fetterman Rule comes into play: your standards are what you tolerate. 

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman loves to dress in a hoodie and shorts; it’s reportedly part of his persona to connect with blue-collar constituents. I’ve got no opinion on his politics or how he dresses in his own home or when he’s out and about.

The U.S. Senate, however, has had an unwritten business attire dress code, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer tolerated Fetterman’s flaunting of it. He even planned to abolish the dress code to accommodate him. 

Worrying about the new policy’s effect, Senators voted overwhelmingly to establish business attire as the official dress code for the Senate floor.

Your best indicator of buy-in is when your employees enforce standards among each other.

Creating buy-in for standards means that people need clarity about them; they must believe that they are better off when everyone follows the standards, and there must be consequences to guard against deviation.

Do your employees enforce your company’s standards, or do you feel you’re doing it alone? 

If you’d like to get your employees more involved in accountability, schedule a call, and we can discuss what’s getting in the way and specific action steps you can take to move forward.

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