Every company has unwritten rules that dictate how people behave. Often these norms are so ingrained that leaders don’t even think about them — but unless you do, you risk creating a disconnect between how people think they should act and how you want them to act. Start by asking yourself what norms employees might hold in their heads. For example, what do people think the best way to get ahead is? Are they allowed to disagree with the boss in meetings? Then test your assumptions by asking employees what they think. (This may be easier if you aren’t the one asking.) Write down what you hear, and reflect on which norms help the company achieve its goals. If some norms don’t align with what leaders expect of people, figure out where the false perceptions come from, and then implement an internal communications plan to change them. Use management meetings, all-hands memos, and companywide addresses to get everyone on the same page.

This tip is adapted from “Why You Should Write Down Your Company’s Unwritten Rules,” by Karen Niovitch Davis

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