Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job.
Unfortunately, sometimes our internal processes get in the way of good performance.
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 simply do their job.
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 hurt employee morale, engagement, and, ultimately, the bottom line.
For example, think of a billing clerk who is working with an old computer that continually has problems that slow her work processes.
Now imagine that she is spending more of her time troubleshooting the computer issues, talking with tech support, or just rebooting the computer.
That wasted time 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
Unexpected emergencies are a given, and unanticipated expenses are common in business.
Be prepared for this by having budget dollars available to purchase the necessary supplies and equipment that are 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
Employees are on the front-line and know what needs to be done more often than management.
Empower employees to make decisions about the way their day-to-day work is performed.
This includes allowing them to make quick decisions about work processes that impact the customer experience.
For example, suppose the office copy machine continues to break down. In that case, 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.
Empower employees so you can eliminate the unnecessary red tape of asking permission!
Take the time to teach employees 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.
For instance, if you have an employee who works the service desk and deals with customer complaints, empower them to fix problems up to a limit of $100 – no questions asked.
5. Coach and Mentor
Allowing employees to make decisions does come with some risks.
Allow employees to make mistakes and use errors in judgment as a learning opportunity.
Do this by demonstrating the difference in outcomes between decision choices.
Managing employees comes with many teachable moments.
Use these moments in time to show employees how to make decisions.
Take advantage of employee tacit knowledge, and utilize this knowledge of seasoned employees to help guide others.
Use employees to eliminate the red tape and expedite the decision-making process.
Organizations that make quick, wise decisions have a strategic competitive advantage because they aren’t wasting time waiting for someone to give the OK on something everyone knows needs to be done!
How much red tape does your organization have?