Monday, March 20, 2017

ATTENTION to Rules, Regulations and Bureaucracy: When is it Time to Change?

BureaucracyAs a keynote speaker and executive mentor, I am frequently asked for ways to deal with rules and bureaucracy in the workplace. Especially when dealing with some large corporations with employee manuals the size of War and Peace.  Rules, regulations and bureaucracy are part of corporate culture, but, done right, they don’t have to adversely affect your morale and productivity.


Let me share five strategies for paying ATTENTION to what matters in a corporate environment rich with rules.  They are:


#1. Communicate the UNWRITTEN rules. While I’m certain all the big rules and expectations are spelled out in an employee policy manual, there are ALWAYS unwritten rules that can often trip people up. New team members and people who transfer between departments can be especially susceptible to this. From break-room etiquette to social interaction to managing the personality differences that keep everyone working well together – define what those underlying expectations are so that everyone is on a level playing field.

#2. Share Common Goals. One great way to clear some of the bureaucracy is to help every team member understand what their part in the goal is.  Make sure that whatever goal you commit to as a team is clear, communicated well and often, and visual. Put the goals where everyone can see them. They then become a filtering system to avoid unnecessary missteps.

#3. Empower decision-making. Here’s the thing – if team members must run to leadership for every single decision, productivity suffers and so does morale.  The flip side of that coin is you empower your employees to make decisions on their own, you give them the freedom to grow as leaders. That fuels innovation. Creativity. The sharing of ideas. Of course, there will be things that must be approved by leadership, so be crystal clear about those expectations. For the rest? Empower your team to be decisive. Offer new solutions and step up to leadership roles of their own. When they do you elevate your entire organization.

#4. Encourage collaboration. There’s nothing quite like a team that works well together is there?  You can help encourage that kind of collaboration by having an “open door” policy where people can come in and get clarification or share ideas.  Allocating time during meetings to brainstorm specific challenges or growth strategies is another great way.  Perhaps you can look at your organization as a whole and see if there are ways to break down some of the silos that get created between departments and divisions so that talent and innovative ideas can flow freely throughout the entire team.  That way everyone has a stronger opportunity to learn and the feeling of true teamwork is elevated.

#5. Decrease meetings and eliminate outdated or unnecessary rules. Don’t get me wrong – meetings done RIGHT can be amazing, collaborative and constructive. Too many times however they are meetings for meetings sake and can run counter to what you want to accomplish.  When it looks like your meetings have become time stealers and demotivators, then it’s time to revisit why and when you are having them. Can you change it up? Schedule less? Create shorter meetings for quick discussion opportunities and then break? Can you meet via online or conference platforms that don’t require everyone to physically be in the room?  One of my favorite books on this topic is Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. If you haven’t read it, pick it up. It’s a keeper!


Rules are important to keep a smooth operation running certainly.  Just be careful your team isn’t so bogged down in the do’s and don’ts that they lose the ability or the desire to jump in and utilize their full potential. Empowering people to really be part of the process and developing that culture where they aren’t afraid to express their thoughts and share their ideas can be AH-MAZINGLY powerful for the growth of your company.


Looking for more ways to focus on reducing and simplifying rules, regulations and bureaucracy in your organization? Watch this video, full of ideas to help answer:
– How to reduce regulation headaches
– How to help others navigate rules to be more productive
– How to focus on what matters most


I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to share them with me here or on social media. I’d also love to help your leadership team cut through some of the red tape that may be holding your company back. Call me today to explore your options!




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