Eliminating Bureaucracy in the Workplace or Not

What does bureaucracy mean in the workplace? For many it implies, We're making stuff in here." They are the one's getting things done. Making it harder for people to do their work is their cause celebre.

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 On the other hand equally inept employees and supervisors hide behind protective silos as a way of avoidance. Increasing the complexity of an organization in some respects ensures "job security." It gives the false sense that real stuff is getting done despite the fledgling heretical innovators whose radical viewpoints of customer service instead of NPS and moving junk into the trash cans. 

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Bureaucracy is the death of achievement.” Einstein

Here is a freebie: Place HR, department heads, and the C- Suite guys and girls on the front-lines once a month for several days. Let them see how their policies affect real people, customer's and profits. Place their desks way, way out of the ivory tower to the middle of the room where the real work is done. Keep them if they can innovate over laying off. Fire them if they cling to tried and true ways of saving their derriers.

  • Have a monthly meeting with problem employees including some who were terminated for the unvarnished truths about your organization that your managers are too afraid to speak of. You'll find these problem "children" simply wanted someone to listen to their ideas over this is how we always do it here. 
  • Meetings lamenting reduce bureaucracy do not help. Nothing gets done except for an annotated policy under a new name. " This is the time you tell the joke about the paperwork reduction committee.
  • Measure how well supervisors remove the clutter forced upon them by making life difficult for their subordinates.
  • Change locks on office doors forcing all to work literally among the people.
  • Review the paper trail of long cared for boxes no one has read fit to be shredded.

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Cost cutting is seldom the reason behind the drive to implement bureaucracy and the status quo achieved with managers far removed from people. The bias of people toward complexity and control is extreme. To permit the mediocrity accompanying the self generating malaise of protective silos  is a race to the bottom.

About Jim Woods

Jim Woods graduated from Capella University with a master’s degree in organizational development and human resources. He is President and senior consultant of Woods Kovalova Group, a management consulting firm located in Denver, CO, and Kiev, Ukraine. He has taught fifth-grade math and science and served as a university professor. Mr. Woods has consulted with MITRE, and Xerox, Whirlpool Corp. He is a published author. Jim is happily married to his business partner Lucy Kovalova-Woods. See our clients.