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Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Understanding Bureaucrats

I often find myself in bitch-sessions about how unreasonable bureaucrats are. Everyone has his or her story. Are these people from another planet? They're not, but you should understand their situation and motives. For most, they are in a job with no positive goals and little upside potential. They have been put in place to enforce rules, reduce an organization's risk, and control others. When they get feedback from their managers, it is most often very negative: something bad has happened and they get blamed because some rule or other wasn't enforced by them. Bad managers, wishing to delegate the blame, might even invent a rule after the fact and blame the bureaucrat for not knowing about it. The management rarely rewards the bureaucrat for a good thing that happens. That reward goes to the initiator of the good thing that the bureaucrat could have thwarted but didn't. Sometimes the initiator thanks the bureaucrat or recommends them to management, but the initiator is rarely the bureaucrat's boss.

Some suggestions:

1. Don't become a bureaucrat. It's a soul-deadening job.
2. Don't beat up bureaucrats. They have a hard life and they have certain powers to take it out on you.
3. If a bureaucrat is really causing problems by overzealous rule enforcement or risk aversion, try to get them promoted to a place where they won't bother you.
4. Try to eliminate bureaucratic jobs by getting everyone else to accept responsibility for following the necessary rules or enforcing those rules by computer.

posted by Jim Morris @ 11:06 AM 


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