Stop treating bureaucracy as protection. It is a disease that is softly and steadily killing your company by its tediousness and its imprisoning of the human factor.

Widespread, lengthy procedures with multiple levels of checking where the rule counts more than the substance are some of its distinguishing characteristics. As its name implies, it gives more weight to the company people behind the bureau than to the people in front of the business desks, the customers.

Of course, Bureaucracy has a purpose; to safeguard the company against wrongdoing by its employees as a result of either their deficiencies or them pursuing some hidden agendas other than that of the company. It is meant, through its mechanism, to enable a company for any wrong action to identify where the responsibility lies, though not without cost in human and other resources.

Possessed by the fear of wrongdoing and wishing to avoid at all costs any consequences, many organizations hold to bureaucracy steadfastly turning a deaf ear to voices from both their customers and their people that bureaucracy very negatively affects them. They do not see that the bureaucratic traits by themselves make their people and organizations less customer-centric, less efficient, less innovative.

When you fill the workplace with rules and procedures, it stifles to a great extent your people’s initiative and stops the natural flow, the resonance, in the human thought and action. It also harms your customers, as they experience long waits at the expense of their valuable time. It works against the easiness of doing business and shows little regard or respect for the customer’s time and money. And it makes a poor business argument to try to sanctify it even in the name of fraud prevention.

The antidote to bureaucracy is good management!

Replace bureaucracy by practising what management is all about. Look at your people, look at your processes, look at your organizational climate, your environment, look at your leadership; For in all these issues lies the solution.

Start with hiring, and hire the right people. Teach your people to learn to correct for their weaknesses. Re-engineer your processes and make them lean. Instead of rules, equip your people with values by developing and living the right culture. Give them the right leadership, that level that will have the humility to be one with the people and at the same will have the vision to inspire them.

We are not against rules when they are sensibly used, but we strongly oppose rules that are wrongly used as a substitute for the right culture and management. Bureaucracy, as above described, has no place in our fast-moving world and should be replaced with virtuous competent leaders, and with well trained and inspired people that operate correctly and efficiently without the need of restraining rules to act on them as blinders of horses.

About the author:

Panikos Sardos is the Managing Director of P&E Sardos Business Solutions Int., a management consulting firm that offers advisory services, coaching and training and can be reached by email: psardos@sardossolutions.com or telephone: +357 99640912, +357 24400884, www.sardossolutions.com