When Expense Rules Do More Harm Than Good: This Week in the Back Office


As a CFO, expense reimbursement rules can be tricky to navigate. Such rules are typically put into place with the best of intentions — but what happens when a good rule leads you astray?

Just ask Kevin Kruse, a prolific writer and speaker about leadership. In a recent Huffington Post article, Kruse recalls how frustrating bad rules can be. Here's the gist: Kruse had recently sold his company and been named a VP at the new company. He submitted an expense report, his first as a newly minted VP, and noticed $4 had been deducted. After double checking his math, Kruse emailed the CFO about the error. The following exchange ensued:

CFO: “I deducted $4.34 because we don't allow employees to buy Post-it notes.”

Kruse: “What? What the heck could be wrong with Post-it notes?”

CFO: “Wasteful expense. Cheaper to tear regular paper into little squares.”

Kruse says the company eventually rewrote its internal policies to eliminate silly expense haggles. But it brings to light an important issue. People don't intend to write bad rules, but they still happen. Why? And how can you prevent well-intentioned rules from doing more harm than good? Check out the full story.

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