Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Six out of every 10 employees feel that there is too much red tape in their organization


Employees often feel it is just too difficult to get things done in their organization. Even simple activities like ordering supplies or hiring a consultant are monumentally difficult tasks

There are just too many forms to fill out, approvals to gather, channels to pass through, or consensus gathering meetings to conduct. The result: annoyance, frustration, and paralysis.

Where does the red tape come from? When small organizations become larger, new systems, policies, and procedures are introduced to regulate and discipline the organization. These well-intentioned measures are supposed to help the organization operate more efficiently and cost effectively.

However, these bureaucratic procedures often do just the opposite. They put a stranglehold on the organization. Employees feel they just don't have the decision-making authority they need to do their work. The small organization, where employees felt empowered, gradually becomes a distant memory in the minds of the old-timers.

The organization becomes bogged down in its own internal procedures rather than focusing on its key goals such as customer satisfaction and profitability. Eventually, the organization enters into a state of perpetual gridlock and productive activity grinds to a screeching halt.


  1. Untangle the Red Tape.

    Take a hard look at those processes that are bogging things down and frustrating employees. Are they really necessary? What damage would occur by streamlining or simplifying the processes. Involve those who are stuck in developing a set of questions to systematically evaluate these red-tape traps. For example,

    • Is this policy, procedure or practice absolutely necessary?

    • Can it be simplified?

    • Is there a less complex alternative approach that can be taken?

  2. Go Around the Red Tape.

    Ever notice that some people in your organization just don't have the same red tape problems that you do? Often, this is because they have delegated the red tape tasks to others. Or, these red-tape avoiders just don't worry about the same approvals, forms, and protocols that others in the organization obsess about. Be bold! Don't assume the worst! Try it and see what happens! You may be pleasantly surprised.

  3. Throw out the Red Tape.

    Organizations typically do a much better job of creating red tape than they do at eliminating it. Perhaps, that form, procedure, or approval has outlived its usefulness and should be abandoned. Be a pioneer by taking the lead! Instead of streamlining operations by eliminating people, eliminate the procedures that make the people less productive.

So, don't get stuck anymore. Untangle, go around, or throw out the red tape.

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