Most working adults can give at least one example of a time when getting things accomplished at work was slowed by bureaucracy and red tape. Multilevel decision making processes slow productivity and can be a source of frustration for workers who are trying to achieve objectives.
An organization’s internal structure is intended to clarify lines of authority and to support work process flow while eliminating duplicate systems – not to slow things down. There are many different types of business organizational structures that fit different business models. Sometimes those structures can slow the decision making process between the top and bottom of the organization.
Bureaucracy (administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine) hurts organizations when it creates bottlenecks in the decision making process. This type of multilayer decision making slows worker productivity and can have a negative impact on the bottom line.
For example, think of a billing clerk who is working with an old computer that continually has problems that slows her work processes. Now imagine that she is expending more of her time troubleshooting the computer issues, talking with tech support or just rebooting the computer. That is time that has been taken away from the tasks that she is responsible for. A decision to solve this issue should be quick and streamlined – especially when the employee’s job impacts the customer experience.
5 Ways to Eliminate the Red Tape
1. Budget for Emergencies
It is important to have budget dollars available to purchase the necessary supplies and equipment that is needed to run the day-to-day operation. This involves going through an annual budgeting process that includes planned equipment replacement. A budget should also include funds for those unexpected expenditures that are difficult to plan for.
2. Empower Employees
Empower employees to make decisions about the way day-to-day work is performed. This includes allowing them to make quick decisions about work processes that impact the customer experience. For example, if the office copy machine continues to break down, there should be a quick decision making process to allow for its replacement to minimize the impact on employee productivity.
3. Set Spending Limits
With empowerment comes responsibility and boundaries. Empower employees to make decisions, within certain spending limits, giving them the flexibility to move quickly on those things that slow the work process or impacts the customer experience. For example, a service recovery program allows employees to make quick decisions that can resolve customer issues. Asking permission through many layers of decision making, slows the process and potentially misses an opportunity to turn around a negative customer experience.
Take the time to teach employees on what their boundaries are and why limits are set. Get them involved in the process of determining decision making boundaries and use their day-to-day experience to improve internal processes. Be clear with expectations and keep communication lines open so there are no misunderstandings.
5. Coach and Mentor
Allowing employees to make decisions does come with some risks. Allow employees to make mistakes and use errors in judgement as a learning opportunity. Coach and mentor employees on the decision making process and help them understand the difference between a good and bad decision. Do this by demonstrating the difference in outcomes between decision choices.
Managing employees comes with many teachable moments and taking advantage of the tacit knowledge of employees provides a business advantage. Use employees to eliminate the red tape and expedite the decision making process. Let’s face it, organizations that make quick, wise decisions have a strategic competitive advantage.
How much red tape does your organization have?
photo by: theen