A lot of companies seek to control employees. They have handbooks and policies. They monitor emails. They make rules about what’s allowed and what’s forbidden.
But “control” is a tricky thing. The tighter the reins, the more you create an environment of distrust. An us vs. them mentality takes hold. And that’s when people start trying to game the system.
That’s why workplace managers who seek “control” might want to consider the advice Shunryu Suzuki gives in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind:
The best way to control people is to encourage them to be mischievous. Then they will be in control in its wider sense. To give your sheep or cow a large, spacious meadow is the way to control him. So it is with people: first let them do what they want, and watch them. This is the best policy. To ignore them is not good; that is the worst policy. The second worst is trying to control them. The best one is to watch them, just to watch them, without trying to control them.
Imagine an employee handbook that just said: “We trust you. Be mischievous.”