Lindsay LaNore: Lake rules for the workplace

By Lindsay LaNore, ICBA


Summer is winding down, and the nights are drawing in. The kids are heading back to school, and those of us who are parents are settling into a new routine. It’s time for a return to structure, schedule, discipline—and rules.

Going back to school is, of course, the ideal time for teachers to go back over classroom rules, but this time of year is also a great opportunity for leaders to revisit workplace rules, perhaps now more than ever. The past 18 months has forced us to throw out the rule books we had grown very used to.

But what should these new rules look like?

Rules are the principles that govern conduct within an organization, and they can extend well beyond perfect attendance and dress codes. Why not take this opportunity to focus less on structure and discipline and more on workplace culture? A positive culture is critically important to employee engagement and retention, and it requires constant care and nurturing.

This summer, I came across a sign that outlined some “lake rules.” It inspired me to think a little differently about how we all see rules. It read: “Sleep in, enjoy the sun, feel the breeze, make a splash, sit around the fire, take long walks.”

Let’s take those lake rules and apply them to the workplace. In our office, we:

  • Sleep in. This need not be literal, but the pandemic has taught us the importance of flexible and hybrid working models. It has also helped us recognize the importance of a healthy work-life balance. Make self-care your No. 1 rule.
  • Enjoy the sun, feel the breeze. This rule is a reminder to live in the moment. Listen to your instincts, make every minute count and do something to improve a relationship, situation or process each day.
  • Make a splash. Who says rules can’t be a little bold? Get your feet wet from time to time. Take smart leaps forward, do something creative every day and bring new ideas to life.
  • Take long walks. In other words, encourage breaks, switch up the routine or step outside the office to encourage imagination. At the very least, take a breath before you hit the “send” button.
  • Read a book. Education is essential to growth. Stay curious. Spend some quality time learning and then share what you’re learning with those around you. Cultivate your wisdom and listen to diverse perspectives.
  • Sit around the fire. This rule is all about community. Encourage discussion, making sure it is respectful and clear. Welcome contributions from your team. Reflect on the mishaps of the day. S’mores are optional.
  • Enjoy the sunset. Every day ends with one, and it’s often spectacular. So, sit back and enjoy each metaphorical sunset, celebrate successes and show gratitude for all that you have achieved as a team. You may be surprised at how much there is to be thankful for.

Lindsay LaNore (lindsay.lanore@icba.org) is ICBA’s group executive vice president and chief learning and experience officer