I was having a mentoring breakfast over the weekend. She was exasperated at a new client, a start-up. "How could they not have (xyz) policy? Don't they understand the risk they are running?" She set them straight.
I suggested a re-framing approach, encompassing a shift from fear-based compliance to context-based compliance. I asked her to think about this approach the next time: Tell the client that start-ups have a choice: a perfect human resources system and no money coming in the door, or money coming in the door and human resources catching up. The client now has a window of opportunity to do catch up.
Remember, I mentioned, how you say something is every bit as important as what you say. The goal is to shift the client from a "I-have-to mindset" to a "I-want-to mindset."
Let me give an example from the word of handbook policies. They are written in a way that focuses the employee on the "must do" world view: "We do not tolerate harassment in any form; violators are subject to dismissal." A shift to a "I-want-to mindset" can be accomplished by explaining why the employer has the policy — namely, to ensure that all employees are given a chance to fully develop into the best employee they can be and to fully realize their potential. Harassment is antithetical to those goals.
The Big Idea: Fear-based thinking is easy and short lived; context-based thinking is hard and long lived.