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Untying Hands: Reimagining Company Policies for Empowered Teams

Have you ever been told, “It’s not our policy…” and felt the frustration creeping in?

This seemingly harmless phrase carries a negative weight that can impede progress, stifle creativity, harm relationships, and even result in lost revenue!

Recently, during a business trip, I experienced this (again) at a beautiful outside lounge at our hotel. Upon arriving with a group, someone mentioned that we would be asking for separate checks, and the server replied firmly, “I’m sorry, that is against company policy.”

As someone who aids clients in delivering top-tier customer service, I’m always intrigued to learn how staff will handle customers when they are not happy with the answer.  So, I pressed lightly. I asked politely but assertively, “You can’t accommodate this request?” The server mentioned they could only split the bill into three equal parts (we had a group of five). While that didn’t make sense to us, we politely complied and met elsewhere the next evening. That was unfortunate because it was a lovely location with otherwise great service.

The Constraints of “It’s Not Our Policy”

Hearing “It’s not our policy” can feel like hitting a wall when faced with a problem or seeking a solution. For example, a couple of us did not have cash, which complicated everything a bit. Although it was not a BIG deal, this scenario is not ideal if you are a business hoping for return customers.

“It’s not our policy” closes off possibilities, conveys rigidity and inflexibility, and can lead to missed opportunities to delight customers and foster loyalty. Worse, in our particular case, it resulted in lost business.

While adhering to guidelines is important, an innovative mindset could lead to creative solutions that meet both customer needs and company standards. Are you empowering your team to seek solutions? At the very least, are they encouraged to contact you for assistance if they can’t find a solution within policy boundaries?

I know policies are important; however, I guide my clients to ensure that they do everything possible to turn the tide if their customer expresses dissatisfaction. Problems are our best opportunities to shine, so I suggest they go over and above. Always aim for a solution that leaves the customer in love with them. (YES, IN LOVE).

Let’s face it: our reputation is based on the most amazing and terrible experiences. (No one talks about the expected service.)

Train your team on problem-solving and empower them to turn challenges into opportunities within their authority. Don’t tie their hands with rigid policies that hinder creativity and innovation. If they encounter obstacles beyond their authority, expect them to reach out to you or someone in your organization with authority.

This doesn’t mean disregarding critical policies but approaching situations with an open mind and a willingness to explore solutions.

Remember, every “Yes” is an opportunity for growth and success. If “Yes” isn’t immediately feasible, saying “Let me see what I can do for you” can lead to finding a solution that leaves a lasting impression. Just remember to follow up, expeditiously.

For more insights on problem-solving, you can explore our books WINX: The Problem-Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees and Your Bottom Line (for business leaders) or WINX for Employees (for all levels of your organization) here:, or reach out to us for speaking engagements or consulting at

About the Author: Irma Parone is a speaker, author, and the founder and president of Parone Group. Her 4xaward-winning book WINX- The Problem-Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees & Your Bottom Line is available in all formats. She also recently published WINX for Employees to help employees at all levels WIN!

She is a leadership consultant who speaks for and works with organizations, including creating high-value customer loyalty, problem-solving and decision-making for leaders, time management, and focus. She has a partner group that extends to numerous topics. Reach out to Irma on LinkedIn or directly at 954-464-6689 or