Pornography and Organizational Bureaucracy

Recently a client asked me if the management structure and disciplines we were instilling would create bureaucracy in the organization. I was a bit flabbergasted by the question as the last thing I would ever do is instill bureaucracy (does anyone really do that on purpose?).

As I considered this subject (and began looking at the situation through the eyes of my client) I wondered if Supreme Court White’s comment about pornography (I’ll know it when I see it) had application to the difference between good management process and bureaucracy – and whether it would be easy to recognize when crossing from one to the other?

A primary and critical purpose of your management team is to communicate, train and maintain effective communication while understanding that not every exception needs to be documented into a new policy (and thus helping to avoid some energy-sapping bureaucracy).

Managers need to be supported in determining areas which are always going to be discretionary and subject to enough variables where they will be required to make a decision. BTW – if you have managers unwilling to take risks and who cannot tolerate the chance of being criticized, then you do not have the right manager! Good managers are attuned to new issues that can be significant on their own or which will propagate more frequently. In these cases, the management team must be proactive in working with their peers and executive management to quickly provide the staff well-defined, written direction.

Operational Guides layout the basic foundations of a firm’s approaches and processes, so staff are trained properly and then are able to provide clients first class service. This process (“Your systems must run your business, and your people run your systems….and most companies get this backward”) was endorsed and made famous by  Michael Gerber’s popular eMyth business development system.

As an example of this process, we created an operational guide for a client’s management team to use in recruiting, hiring, training and managing their sales staff.  It provided a common foundation in explaining their markets, key differentiators, pricing strategies, sales process, sales goals (activity and quota – units/$’s) compensation plans, and forecast process. As Michael Davis, President of Savid Technologies recently told Inc Magazine, “I knew I could close deals, but I didn’t know how to build and manage a sales team.” Our Sales Operations Guide assisted Mike in creating better results and discipline in his business practices.

Do you struggle with the red tape that is generated from too much bureaucracy? Or a chaotic environment where money, time and energy is wasted every day? Drop me a line and let me know how you manage this fine balance.

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