Creating Unnecessary Bureaucracy

Creating Unnecessary Bureaucracy

I’ve rewritten this post several times now.  The catalyst for this toned-down rant was the company-wide distribution of a new dress code policy.  As background to this story, I was hired by a small business to support a Federal Government contract.  If you want bureaucracy, the Federal Government is certainly where you’ll find it.  Where I don’t expect to find it is with a small business.  I’ve worked for both large and small businesses.  The bigger they get, the more layers of bureaucracy there is.    It doesn’t have to be that way.  I think some small businesses think you have to add a lot of crap to processes, in the hope someone will think there is value.  Draconian policies do not translate to value!  As I read the new policy, I became more and more incensed.   I come  from a military background, so if someone has anything to say about my appearance, they should say it to my face.

This dress code policy was not necessarily directed to me.  That is where the problem rests.   When you feel the need to communicate TO and not communicate WITH your people, you have a problem. This situation could have been easily avoided by a superior and a subordinate having a conversation.   Instead, we get a vague policy that runs the gambit of  “no shaggy hair” to “hair color should be kept within the family of traditional hair colors”.

Give me a break.   This is a failure of both communication and of leadership.  It doesn’t matter if we’re talking corporate, project management, or communication processes.  Take a big step back and ask yourself if writing that process makes sense.  Action and communication is what will become culture.  Processes just become a pain in the ass that slow things down.

Image from kailash.balnac.com

4 Replies to “Creating Unnecessary Bureaucracy”

  1. Derek,

    You have to wonder what happens to organizations when they get this petty and treat their employees as children. It is almost like some organizations have forgotten how to talk to their employees as adults.

    It is as if what actually hold us back in the marketplace and why competition is cleaning our clock is the direct the result of violation of a dress code.

    I think at the heart of this is the fear of holding an adult-to-adult conversation with few employees manifests itself in company-wide policy after policy that everybody has to suffer. Adult-to-adult conversations, however, require that each party trusts and respects the other.

    In the absence of trust and respect for their employees, some organizations are more comfortable hiding behind enterprise-wide policy and education campaigns designed to handle few isolated misconducts. They are much more comfortable with this than talk to their employees directly.

    1. Samad,
      I think you really identified the root cause here. I agree, there is currently an absence of trust and respect toward the employees. These isolated issues could have been resolved through a few face-to-face conversations. Why do people have to hide behind a pen?

      Unfortunately, a corporate policy is like a federal law. Once that layer of bureaucracy is added, it’s going to take ten times the effort to remove it. The side effect they fail to add into the equation is the cost to the business in morale. I don’t see the policy adding any true value. My people will be productive, regardless of what they are wearing. If anything, they may be even more productive if given an opportunity to express themselves.

  2. Derek,

    You have to wonder what happens to organizations when they get this petty and treat their employees as children. It is almost like some organizations have forgotten how to talk to their employees as adults.

    It is as if what actually hold us back in the marketplace and why competition is cleaning our clock is the direct the result of violation of a dress code.

    I think at the heart of this is the fear of holding an adult-to-adult conversation with few employees manifests itself in company-wide policy after policy that everybody has to suffer. Adult-to-adult conversations, however, require that each party trusts and respects the other.

    In the absence of trust and respect for their employees, some organizations are more comfortable hiding behind enterprise-wide policy and education campaigns designed to handle few isolated misconducts. They are much more comfortable with this than talk to their employees directly.

    1. Samad,
      I think you really identified the root cause here. I agree, there is currently an absence of trust and respect toward the employees. These isolated issues could have been resolved through a few face-to-face conversations. Why do people have to hide behind a pen?

      Unfortunately, a corporate policy is like a federal law. Once that layer of bureaucracy is added, it’s going to take ten times the effort to remove it. The side effect they fail to add into the equation is the cost to the business in morale. I don’t see the policy adding any true value. My people will be productive, regardless of what they are wearing. If anything, they may be even more productive if given an opportunity to express themselves.

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