Bureaucracy—unnecessary and complicated layers of oversight and management that prevent clear communication and hinder productivity—is the pariah of workplace issues. However, many feel it’s unavoidable, especially at larger organizations, and it can be easy for both individual employees and leaders alike to get caught up in distractions and drama at work.

Bureaucracy affects the bottom line

It’s in an organization’s best interest to avoid office politics and unnecessary bureaucracy—it “saps initiative, inhibits risk taking, and crushes creativity. It’s a tax on human achievement.” In fact, Hamel and Zanini report that “bureaucracy costs the U.S. more than $3 trillion in lost economic output per year.” 

To reduce overly political behavior, leaders can do several things:

  • Provide equal access to information.
  • Demonstrate collaborative behavior.
  • Show by example that political behavior will not be rewarded or tolerated.
  • Encourage managers to provide high levels of feedback to employees about their performance. High levels of feedback reduce the perception of organizational politics and improve employee morale and work performance.

Related article: 6 steps to build a culture of trust 

Keep a positive and supportive mindset

Organizational bureaucracy can be frustrating, but you can help make your workplace more positive by not participating in politics.

  • Build your social network and find ways to connect with other departments. This will minimize the tendency for silos to form across departments.
  • Remain professional at all times. Remember that, when a conflict arises, it’s typically possible to find a solution that satisfies everyone.
  • Build your own personal brand. A personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you who you are. It is also how you present yourself to others. Effective personal branding will help you build trust and set the tone and expectation of how you interact with others—extremely important when you’re navigating a bureaucratic environment. 

Elimination or reduction of bureaucracy will go a long way toward improving professional wellbeing, but there are many factors that affect it—including coworker relationships, clarity on expectations, and training level. Take a holistic look at your professional wellbeing, and you’ll feel empowered to start making changes. 

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