RULES are RULES – and they can lead to “Positional Authorities” with wild interpretations

Are your RULES and POLICIES being “enforced” commensurate with their intent?


Are they unnecessarily inconveniencing the very people said rules are created to serve and protect?

Our neighborhood pool has “Pool Monitors” who are NOT Life Guards, and they ostensibly have only 2 responsibilities:

  • Keep the pool clean and orderly (Skim leaves and arrange the deck chairs)
  • Enforce the RULES

These monitors are taking their jobs VERY seriously this year . . . and are clearly aware of their “Positional Authority.” Just by the sheer nature of the fact that they have this job, they can RULE THE POOL armed with the threat that if anyone breaks any rules they will “File a Report” which results in Certified Mail delivery of a letter stating that the association is aware of a RULE infraction . . . and that another report of an infraction would lead to inactivation of the resident’s key fob and therefore loss of access to the pool.

My family had a bit of a “run in” with one of these “Lords of the Pool” last weekend as our adult son showed up with too many guests (9). The RULES had changed allowing 10 guests but we didn’t see the follow-on language that limited it to “5 Adults and 5 Children” . . . When son and friends arrived, there were only 3 other residents at the pool. The Pool Monitor approached them immediately with a confrontational demeanor and demanded that they leave.

Things escalated (I’m sure precipitated by some sarcastic comments from son and friends), and they ended up leaving . . . A few days later, we received the dreaded certified letter.

Of course, this whole thing could have been handled differently – Per the RULES, 5 of the friends could have stayed with Son (4 would have to leave) . . . or 4 could agree not to swim . . . or they could rotate friends in occasionally keeping the number at 5 adult guests while there. (The argument that 4 of the guests were actually “Children” didn’t fly either).

I understand that rules are RULES . . . but I also sometimes wonder why they must be enforced to the letter ESPECIALLY when there’d be no harm done to other residents (others weren’t there).

Another event – Different Pool Monitor

Yesterday after 4 hours of soccer camp, our daughters were hot and sticky and  had a friend over for some swimming. The day was over-cast and rainy with a threat of thunderstorms, so we were the ONLY people at the pool.

While there, our daughter was practicing her swimming, and her friend (who is on a swim team) was offering her some tips on her breathing . . . I chimed in occasionally.

As we were leaving the Pool Monitor in all her glory approached me and said:

“I’ll let it slide THIS time because no-one else is here, BUT it is against the rules to give swim lessons in the pool. I just wanted to let you know that it’s against the RULES.”

REALLY? These girls are 11 years old and isn’t a it a primary reason for many young children to come to the pool to LEARN how to swim from their friends and family?

I didn’t argue (Lest I have another “report” filed) but made a mental note to check the RULES when I got home.

The “SWIMMING POOL RULES” for our association clearly state:

“SWIM TEAM” practices or formal, structured lessons are NOT allowed.”

This is NOT a bad rule when interpreted as it was originally intended. Of course, it would be disruptive and inconvenient for residents to use the pool while swim teams are practicing or water ballet or swim coaches giving lessons.

BUT – Add a “Positional Authority” to the mix, and we learn that the intent of the rule matters less than their personal need to CONTROL and wield their great Pool Monitor Powers.

In NO way was what was happening in that pool “structured Lessons.”

So . . . when you make RULES (at home of work), be sure of 2 things:

  • The RULES exist to “Serve & Protect” – not COMMAND & CONTROL
  • Those charged with ENFORCING the rules understand the INTENT of the them


and ALWAYS pay attention to people in your organization who lean towards exercising ego-maniacal positional authority . . . They’ll kill your business.

Beautiful day today . . . We’re going back to the pool for some swimming and might just do a little more work on those breathing skills 🙂

Published by Barry Owen

Strategist-CEO of Pareto Realty Real estate sales Professional Inviter-Facilitator-Practicer of Open Space Technology Opening safe space for people & organizations to self-organize around issues & opportunities BarryOwen.US Invite-Listen-Love

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