3 reasons why you shouldn’t make exceptions to rules

By Brian Bell September 9, 2014


3 reasons why you shouldn't make exceptions to rules

3 reasons why you shouldn’t make exceptions to rules

Pools are known for their many rules and regulations. These are established by pool management in order to keep patrons and staff members safe.

These may include general rules, such as prohibiting non-aquatic-related items at the pool. Or they may involve daily operations, such as not allowing the emergency exit door to be used for any reason other than emergencies. At some point in time, employees or guests may ask if they can bend the rules for one reason or another. As harmless as it may seem, it will have lasting consequences. This even applies if it’s a guest who’s asking for a favor.

Recognize the risks
Aquatics International magazine mentioned one instance where an aquatics director allowed a guest with a recent injury who was using the pool for therapy sessions to bend a rule. She asked if she and her instructor could use an emergency exit door because she was on crutches and the normal exit procedure required going through the changing rooms and lobby before exiting through the front doors. The director made an exception, and before long, other guests and staff members began to use the emergency exit. When the director spoke to employees about it, one person reasoned that an exception had been made for one person and should be applied to others.

Exceptions to rules should never be made because they can result in negative effects that impact pool operations. Here are three other concerns to consider if you’re wavering on rule exceptions.

1. Avoid feelings of favoritism: Making an exception even once can cause people to feel as if you’re favoring someone, regardless of whether it’s a guest or another employee. This disrupts the normal workflow and can lead to problems among staff members.

2. One time can lead to many: Once a staff member is allowed to break a rule, there’s no guarantee that others won’t do the same. Or, guests can be misled if they see another patron exiting through an emergency door and not getting in trouble for doing so. The pool is a public place, and there’s no such thing as breaking a rule without being noticed, so don’t let matters get out of hand.

3. Don’t go back on your words: Allowing a person to break the rules once is a quick way to render a rule useless. Once it becomes an issue due to repetition or others skirting the rule, you have to go back on your words again by pointing out that the exception was a one-time instance. This could lead to negative feelings among the staff and possibly toward management.

Though your interpretation of the rules may be black and white, members of your pool management team may not see them as distinctly. At some point, you’ll have to take time away from the pool, and though reiterating the rules may not seem necessary, it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially when it comes to pool safety.

One pool manager, featured in Aquatics International magazine, noted an instance where a member the management team allowed a staff member to ride a bike off a diving board into the pool, in front of other employees and pool patrons. The recreation specialist had allowed the individual to do this more than once and didn’t understand that it broke many policies and regulations. Therefore, carefully go through the rules and remind staff members that all the rules that apply to patrons regarding pool use also apply to them.