Peter F. Drucker, known as "the man who invented management," once made a statement that should cause every manager, leader or business owner to stop and ponder: "Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done." We spend a great deal of time and effort setting up operational processes and sometimes neglect the human side of the equation—the people processes.
There are many rules and procedures in the workplace that are unnecessary. They don't help achieve corporate objectives, and instead, undermine and dispirit employees; they stress administrivia at the expense of value; and they get in the way of those trying to accomplish something.
It's time to fix those broken people processes. Stop doing what doesn't work, start new practices that drive results and watch what happens to the productivity in your shop. Here are some tips to get you started.
Eliminate the dumb things.
ETDT, or Eliminate the Dumb Things, is a practice at Walmart described by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge. We could all benefit by reviewing all policies and procedures to eliminate useless, make-work processes. As the authors advise, ask yourself: "How useful is this in helping us become the best that we can be? How useful is this for stimulating creativity and innovation?" If the answer is "It's not," eliminate it or change it. Empower everyone in your company to wander around the office, the plant, the store, looking for all the unnecessary rules and regulations, and needless routines and processes. Make it safe for people at all levels to flag these and recommend changes.
Don't issue a company-wide rule that only applies to a few.
Some policies are instituted to deal with a situation that applies to only one or two individuals. Rather than face the employee head on, managers hide behind a new policy. For example, most team members are good at keeping you in the loop, except for one individual who doesn't communicate. Even though you have spoken to him about this issue, he continues with his non-communicative pattern. He is a high performer and you are afraid to confront him, so you issue a policy that all team members must provide a written report every two weeks, causing unnecessary work and loss of productivity for the entire team. What's worse, everyone knows why you issued the policy. Stop doing this and confront issues on a one-by-one basis.