Bureaucracy is often the enemy of productivity in the workplace, but it can be more problematic than that. Companies with red tape can see disgruntled employees leading to problems with retention, and it can be difficult for a business bogged down to grow.

It’s important for successful companies to make sure they keep bureaucracy at bay as much as possible so they can focus on strategy, innovation, growth, productivity and employee satisfaction, but how does that happen when it’s so easy for bureaucracy to creep in?

The following are simple steps to be battle bureaucracy in an organisation, whether it already exists or you’re working proactively.

Rely on technology and automation

One of the biggest contributors to the presence of bureaucracy is redundancy in how things are done in the workplace, and inefficiency in workflows and business processes. It’s important for companies to embrace ideas of technology and automation that will eliminate these issues.

For example, is your AP department still working manually to pay invoices? This is a great area to introduce invoice workflow automation.

Automation software can be beneficial not just for financial departments, but across a company. Automated workflows provide real-time analysis for informed decision-making, they improve visibility and communication, and they’re also excellent ways to hold employees accountable.

On a similar note, always use the least amount of paperwork possible. Anytime something can be done online or via software, go that route.

Automation and software can not just eliminate inefficiencies and automate redundant processes, but also reduce the likelihood of errors slowing everything down.

Create smaller projects

Massive projects, particularly if they span across departments, tend to foster bureaucracy inherently.

Instead of creating and assigning large-scale projects, break projects up into small, short-term and separate work. Giving shorter deadlines and keeping things smaller can make it a lot easier to manage projects and keep costs down.

Create a culture focused on the result

At all too many companies today the focus isn’t on the result. It’s in the process. Focusing on the process is inevitably going to lend itself to bureaucracy. The most successful companies and leaders don’t concern themselves with the process or how employees are getting where they’re going. They care about the results. Empower employees to do things their own way, particularly if they’re top talent.

As long as you specify the outcome or result you want, leave the rest up to them.

Speaking of processes, make sure you just eliminate them entirely when possible. For example, are there various levels of approval that can be cut out? If so, make the change.

If approvals or decision-making are required, make sure it’s done quickly. Don’t make the decision-making process include many secret meetings. Empower company leaders to be ready and willing to give an answer as soon as possible.

Finally, make data-based decisions. Use analytics and reporting, so your decisions are guided by facts, information, and ROI rather than emotion. It will be easy to point out the reasoning for decisions, so there’s no need for explanations and the focus can be on executing the work that needs to be done stemming from those decisions, rather than creating a rationale.