What are the personalities and priorities of your team members? Is it important to a majority of your people to have freedome to be spontaneous, creative, and whimsical, or is your team comprised primarily of ordered, structured, regimented personalities who appreciate systems? Perhaps you have a mix of both. Depending on your mission and the goals of the organization you may employ primarily creative and spontaneous personalities, or have chiefly highly-structured people on board. Regardless, it is a good use of your time as a leader to think about existing policies and protocols to determine if they are a good fit for the type of work your are doing, the organizations's culture, and the types of personalities you are working with.
The structure in your workplace is an important factor in determining culture, maintaining efficiency, facilitating communication, and keeping order in general. In some workplaces, order and efficiency are built into the system and are streamlined, benefitting the company. However, if you find that your team is bogged down by "administrivia," and time spent waiting for approval or authorization is costing your organization money, creating ineffeciency, and likely frustrating your team members, it's time as the leader to evaluate procedure and protocol.
The first step in this process would be to look at the culture of your organization as a whole. Are you a creative marketing team who must still work against deadlines? Are you a highly-technical or regimented team, such as a medical practice, where days are structured and scheduled far in advance? Depending on the purpose of the organization, procedures must be evaluated for necessity and efficiency. Are the procedures in place helping to streamline communication? Are they giving your team windows within which to exercise creative thinking while maintaining the necessary timeline in order to meet important deadlines? Are projects helped or hindered by policies and procedures? These are all questions leaders should be asking as they evaluate the efficiency of policies in the workplace.
The second step, naturally, would be to make necessary changes to procedures or policies which are hindering efficiency. Beware, however, that you are making the RIGHT changes. Replacing inefficient and cumbersome procedures with equally burdensome and unnecessary ones is not only pointless, but will create even more confusion as your team is now burdened with learning and being mindful of a new and unnecessary process. In determining what changes should be made, the personality of your organization and the individuals that make up your team must be considered, and in thinking this through creative solutions will likely come to light.
Highly regimented and structured workplaces can function within very narrow policies.
In fact, the nature of the work may be just that: running on time, keeping to schedule, and staying on task. More creative or collaborative work, however, must have more flexiblie policies with more loosely-structured protocols. Will your team function better if they are given windows of time within which to work? Will they have more creative freedom if they are told to have smaller benchmarks met within an interval of time rather than the whole project completed by a specific looming deadline? Will the communication be more efficient if there are whiteboards on which ideas are recorded and built upon rather than a confusing and jumbled series of emails? Do you notice that the members of your team communicate better as a whole group, or in smaller teams of two or three? Can specific and narrow flowcharts be replaced by general guidellines? Can "rules" be replaced with guiding principals? When you consider the bigger picture and the objectives of the organization as a whole and then take into consideration the personalities of your team members, your solutions will be a good fit and will likely be easily implemented and wholeheartedly embraced.
Good leaders understand that their team members WANT to find success as much as they do. No one sets out to do their worst, but if you find that policies and procedures are bogging your team down and creating inefficiency and confusion, then it's worth your time to make a change. Just make sure you are making the RIGHT change, and that the new procedures you are implementing are a good fit for the organization and the personalities that make up your team.