Merge's Blog

To motivate employees, cut out the red tape

Last month, I started a brand-new video series offering specific ideas on how leaders can motivate employees.  The first tip in this series was to be flexible.  You all told me that this was a subject that you would find immensely helpful.  So here is today’s strategy to motivate employees: cut out the red tape.

Eliminate red tape

Red tape is excessive bureaucracy or over-the-top adherence to rules and formalities.  Research shows, over and over again, that one of the biggest de-motivators for employees is perceived bureaucracy.  So anything that you can do to reduce or remove red tape will be a huge motivator to most of your staff.  Now I know that some of you watching this video come from organizations that are so large that they have policy manuals that probably cover just about every situation you could possibly think of.  And so … you might think there is no way you can reduce red tape.  Don’t underestimate what you can do!

Buffer your people from bureaucracy

True, you might not be able to get rid of the bureaucracy, but you CAN buffer your employees from it.  In other words, the way to reduce red tape for your staff is to take the flack yourself.  So, perhaps the policy in your company is that in order to get new laptops for your team, you are required to fill out a gazillion forms and make the case in front of three levels of management!  If that’s true, then your employees shouldn’t have to fill out the gazillion forms and make the case in front of three levels of management; you should!

And when you take on that task, you buffer your employees from the bureaucracy.  You take those activities on so that your employees don’t have to deal with them.  That’s what good leaders do.  And when you buffer your people from bureaucracy, when you cut out red tape, it’s a very powerful way to motivate employees.

I have more specific tips to motivate employees coming up … in fact, it’s my goal to continue this series all year.  But in the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think of this one.  Is it reasonable to expect you to buffer your employees from bureaucracy, or am I asking you to take on a gargantuan task?  Please comment below.

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