The word ‘bureaucracy’ can be defined as an “excessively complicated administrative procedure” while in business terms it can relate to an organisation with multi-layered and sometimes laborious systems.
Although it can be argued that all companies require a set structure and clearly defined processes for all employees to work within and follow, it’s also true that adhering to those without any room for manoeuvre can actually prove detrimental to a business’ chances of success.
It has been suggested that bureaucracy is stifling the creative industries in the UK, but the same could be said of more corporate organisations, such as those within the financial sector. The UK’s impending departure from the European Union could mean that businesses on these shores are faced with even greater levels of bureaucracy, as the politicians and law-makers hash out fresh trading agreements.
With that in mind, it is more important than ever that companies get their own houses in order, so what are the perils of bureaucracy and how can they be overcome?
What are the dangers of bureaucracy?
- Inflexibility: Rigid rules and workflows can lead to a propensity to classify people or things into certain categories. Unfortunately, anything that lands outside of those boundaries can get lost as a result, meaning organisations can miss out on maximising a talented employees’ potential or capitalising on a revolutionary idea.
- Shirked responsibility: These systems encourage a collective effort, but the drawback is that some individuals are happy to let others take on most of the responsibility. And, if mistakes are made, some may blame the process for causing the issue and point the finger elsewhere, when instead they ought to be owning up to their errors.
- Neglect: With so many moving parts to a bureaucratic process, important pieces of information can fall through the cracks and become forgotten about as they get passed up and down the chain, which can lead to damaging delays.
What can be done to overcome these problems?
- Digitisation: The removal of the human element can help to reduce the risk of bureaucracy inhibiting a company’s progress. For example, enlisting the services of a digital transformation company can help to streamline processes and eschew the need for time-consuming and painstaking workflows.
- Greater autonomy across the board: By allowing employees at all levels of the business to make key decisions and take responsibility for their areas of work, precious time can be saved on the process of seeking approval from the hierarchy. It will also encourage more people within the company to feel they are valued as an important cog in the wheel.
- Build relationships: By encouraging communication between all departments and layers of an organisation, there will be less of a fear factor for those a little further down the hierarchical chain when it comes to speaking to their superiors about putting an idea forward or identifying any potential pain points.