Dealing with Bureaucracy

How to deal with bureaucracies.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #95

Listener Calvin asks:

How do I deal with HR?

Calvin, bureaucracies are famous for helping you get where you want to go in the most roundabout way possible.

Bureaucracies! I just love bureaucracies! No … I don’t… I hate bureaucracies. But they exist for a reason. As organizations grow bigger, it takes more and more coordination to keep things working well. They also give us more people to talk to. We once had time to spend with friends, learn stuff, be creative, and build caring communities. Now, we’re too busy updating our Facebook profiles. Bureaucracies fill this void, giving us whole new communities, all aligned around the common purpose of feeling busy and productive even when we’re not actually being busy and productive. Heck, if we actually got stuff done efficiently, there wouldn’t be enough work to go around, and we’d have layoffs. So Hooray! for bureaucracies.

Think it Through Beforehand

It sounds like your HR department is staffed by Catbert, the evil HR director. If you let them drive the process, you’ll never get done. You’ll get halfway through filing a performance review only to discover that your competency profile was never updated after your last review. By the time you’ve updated that, your performance review data is more than 48 hours old. That’s a no-no, so you have to file an exception form. Your HR people care about your spirit, your ambition, and your competencies…just not your productivity.

Before you go to HR, sit down and make a list of everything you need to deal with. Write down all your questions and issues. “Get new employee badge.” “Approve hiring requisition.” “Respond to Bernice’s complaint about my new deodorant.”


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.