Malicious Compliance

What is malicious compliance? I would define it as following the letter of the rule or procedure, while undermining its intent.

Here is a theoretical example. What if employees did not tell the boss the building was on fire, because she had said she did not want to be disturbed, no matter what? I used to work for other people and that was not a good fit. I had trouble with a policy about business cards. The firm wanted to be sure that their employees were using their own names on their business cards but what the policy said was that you had to use your “real name.” I am known as Debi Peverill. My birth name is Deborah. Because the business card must show my “real name,” my business card read D.J. (Debi) Peverill. This annoyed me. The first time I was out at a client with the managing partner I introduced myself as DJ brackets Debi Peverill.  My business card was changed shortly thereafter.  

If your policies explain why a particular rule is required you will have better luck with compliance. Let your employees know what you are trying to accomplish and trust them to figure out how to do it.

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