Ever feel like you’re spending more time reporting on work than actually working? Do the processes that are supposed to make you more efficient actually stop you from getting projects over the line? Are you or your team reluctant to suggest new ideas as they come back 6 months later butchered beyond recognition?
That’s bureaucracy my friends and nobody is free from her chokehold. Her red tape will trip you up, tie you down and frustrate the communication and creativity in your company. So how do we cut loose? Abandon all rules and live like wonderfully corporate anarchists?
Sadly, no. The reality is that while bureaucratic processes might be frustrating, we do need structures in place to function productively. Therefore the answer isn’t to forgo process entirely but to find that balance between creativity and consistency. Not an easy task but there are certain things that help.
Hire the right people
Building out your team with people who understand your mission and are on the same page in terms of innovation is key. Sandy Breitmeier, Talent Executive at HelloFresh says that her company look for candidates who understand their brand before they even meet. “We only hire people who pretty much get what we stand for before they come for an interview. We also get someone from a random team to meet them at the final stage for 15 minutes, just to assess that. So someone from Product could be meeting our Financial Analyst candidate and vice versa,” she said. In this way the whole company is invested in hiring.
Don’t get caught up with “best practice”
If you’re not Google or Facebook, you shouldn’t try to be. Instead of trying to incorporate the latest HR trend or insight, find what works for your own company and stick with it. The make up of your team will determine the processes that work best for your company. Focus on that, on keeping it as personalised as possible.
Only track things worth tracking
While certain data is illuminating and vital for pinpointing growth or decline, some is unnecessary, time zapping and merely a shield for the bureaucratic barnacles to hide behind. Agree on the project deliverables that need to be tracked and stick to them. Adding too many reporting structures not only wastes time but it steals focus from the main objective.
Use meetings sparingly
Meetings should never be your go-to communication but when you do call a meeting make sure you’re being efficient about it. Circulate an agenda beforehand, only invite the people who really need to be there and assign actions to be taken up afterwards.
Think carefully about the hierarchy
If you want to overcome bureaucracy in your business, you need to tackle the management structure. For Sandy, the key to an efficient and creative team is mutual trust. She says at HelloFresh employees are encouraged to work autonomously. “We have no micromanagement at all. Our managers trust their teams and often tend to hire people who have stronger skills in certain areas than themselves – therefore they will completely let them do what they want and employees feel empowered,” she said.
Work on your culture
Whether you’re a startup or a large corporation, your culture is one of the biggest determinants of behaviour among staff. If you want your culture to be one where people take action rather than talk about it, you need to support them from the top down. Sandy believes it’s all about building up your employees and not playing the blame game.
“We promote a ‘Do what you think is right’ culture and ask for forgiveness later if things didn’t work out. We trust in the people we hired to make the right decisions and reflect the brand at any point.”
To bring about change, sometimes you need to be a bit dogged. This is the case from entry level to C-level. The truth is that solid work relationships are the best weapon in cutting through the red tape so utilise them. Try to have open discussions with your team around making processes more impactful. Be brave and ready to cull what you’re doing and start anew. If it’s broke, fix it.
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