How to Reduce Bureaucracy in a Workplace

Workplace bureaucracy can make efficiency less possible.
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Comic strip depictions of bureaucracy readily induce laughter: Powerful bureaucrats sit behind desks piled with paper as more papers cascade onto floors -- filled with even more paper. If only real-life bureaucracy was as blatantly ridiculous or as funny. Modern bureaucrats use subtle tactics to decrease worker focus and increase dependency on regulations. Endless meetings and lengthy policies are not the drivers of successful businesses; empowered workers are. Reduce the bureaucracy in your workplace to prove that empowered workers -- not endless meetings and lengthy policies -- are the drivers of business.

    Step 1

    Understand the nature of the bureaucrat. Acknowledge that everyone may not be on board with reducing workplace bureaucracy. Bureaucrats want to maintain their ability to say they’re “tied up in meetings” to dodge duties. They enjoy the privilege of having more than one working title, while completing the work of none. Don’t let their attitudes stop you from bettering your workplace.

    Step 2

    Refine the power structure. When organization charts are too complex, they are better used as paper weights. Review the responsibilities of every position to ensure that each serves a useful function. Cut out unnecessary positions and combine ones that overlap.

    Step 3

    Hire and retain self-motivated workers who think for themselves. Encourage workers to increase their practical knowledge, instead of relying on regulations for answers. Stress that there is no substitute for hands-on experience, while empowering them to actively solve problems.

    Step 4

    Speak up about ways to refine procedures. It may take avid protest before die-hard fans of doing things “the way we’ve always done them” will listen. Providing data to back up your assertions gives your arguments more weight, especially when going against long-standing policies.

    Step 5

    Focus on goal completion. Place emphasis on getting the job done instead of simply the strategy. While plans are important, actions are the ultimate objective. Besides, you can’t improve a process until you implement it. Time spent talking instead of doing is counterproductive.

    Step 6

    Streamline workplace communication. Relay messages in the most efficient mediums possible. It doesn’t take hour-long meetings to express simple concepts such as “job well done” or “stay on target.” Keep workplace procedures concise and readable. Weighing down simple instructions with jargon and overly-complex language only ensures confusion.


    • Express the importance of input from workers on the “front lines” of the company. This builds cohesion.

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