I disdain bureaucracy. When I use that word, however, I do not mean that I disdain procedures or rules.

My definition of bureaucracy: "Policies and/or procedures that create no value for stakeholders." For example, I don't consider procedures governing the conduct and frequency of performance reviews to be bureaucracy. If they're put in place and no one uses them, however, that's another story.

Here's a quick personal anecdote:

Many years ago in a prior life, I had a group of senior leaders of a large organization reporting to me. In a staff meeting one Friday, one of these people brought up "casual Fridays," which we had implemented about a year before. During the discussion, he cited a couple of examples of people who were regularly abusing our Friday dress code and then proposed that we eliminate casual days because of these violations. When I flatly refused, he looked perplexed and asked, "How are we going to eliminate this problem if we allow people to abuse the system?" I then inquired as to how many people were creating this problem while simultaneously wondering why I was spending my time on this issue. A quick tally revealed that less than 1 percent of the employee population was going too far with their notion of casual.

My next question/suggestion to the management team was met with blank expressions. "I have an idea. Why don't each of you manage your own individual problems. If you have one or two people that need to be talked to, do that. Does it make sense to punish those who enjoy casual days and whose attire remains appropriate for a business environment?"

To make a long story somewhat shorter, we agreed to deal with this by exception, but this raises a larger point: How many managers do not appropriately conduct one-on-one discussions to deal with issues, depending rather on general pronouncements, remote edicts or impersonal polices, processes and procedures?

Organizations that rely exclusively on formal rules to impose restrictions and govern behavior typically have a tough time attracting and retaining a creative, effervescent workforce. I've seen lots of companies populated by drones; it's not a pretty sight.

Where formal policies and procedures need to exist, organizational leaders should provide context. People have a right and reason to know why those rules exist and the benefit they provide. Leaders benefit because it's in their interest to have people supporting decisions voluntarily and with enthusiasm. Self-discipline is almost always more productive than imposed discipline.

Copyright 2015 Rand Golletz. All rights reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Rand Golletz Performance Systems is a leadership development, executive coaching and consulting firm that works with senior corporate leaders and business owners on a wide range of issues, including interpersonal effectiveness, brand-building, sales management, strategy creation and implementation. For more information and to sign up for Rand's free newsletter, The Real Deal, visit http://www.randgolletz.com