Bureaucrat's Handbook
Developing Antidotes for Bureaucracy


Integrity Maps
Where are your actions?

The following charts illustrate various combinations of behavior, including compliance with authority, contribution to the goals of the organization, appearance to others, underlying intent, and ability to complete an assigned task. Each map divides the landscape into quadrants with descriptive labels attached to each region. These labels are used to name the behavior of the person who has chosen to occupy that region.

Entrepreneurs want to make a positive contribution to the goals of the organization. They would rather add value than waste time, money, or other resources. Bureaucrats often insist on strict obedience of their demands and commands. This does not cause a problem as long as the bureaucrats demands result in added value to the organization. This is the integrity region of the map. The problem comes in all too often when the bureaucrat demands obedience to a request that is wasteful, oppressive, self serving, or abusive. This causes a dilemma for the entrepreneur, should he continue to add value, or obey the wasteful demand of the bureaucrat? The choice to disobey and add value is a courageous choice, and is labeled maverick on the map. Unfortunately it can lead to being labeled as uncooperative, disloyal, rebellious, and unprofessional. It won’t be long before you are identified as a troublemaker and scapegoat. Bureaucrats are often very skillful at intimidating, punishing and, disciplining those guilty of insubordination. The other choice is to obey the bureaucrat and incur the waste. This is easiest in the short term, and the most common choice. It is labeled sheep in the map to describe mindlessly following the person in the position of leadership. The problem with this choice is that this leads quickly to self doubt, lack of confidence, loss of commitment to the goals of the organization and eventually to a mediocre career, loss of self esteem, and it turns potentially rewarding work into drudgery.

Bureaucrats always want to “look good” regardless of their true intent. Use this appearance / intent integrity map to track their movements. When their intent is selfish and in conflict with the goals of the organization they are operating as snakes. Often the bureaucrats describe themselves as operating in the integrity region when actually they are snakes. Don’t confuse this with an entrepreneur who is well intended, but needs to use “tough love” or strict or stern behavior to get the required results. We all remember a strict teacher, coach, parent, friend, boss, or mentor who appeared tough while acting in the very best interests of the organization and ourselves. This stern approach to changing behavior for the better is labeled tough guy on the map.

Can you help us out? The entrepreneur always wants to answer with an enthusiastic “yes”! Unfortunately we often get asked or coerced to commit to completing a task that exceeds our ability. This may be because the task is not well understood, or we are not given the resources, authority, or time to complete the task, or the task may simply be impossible for anyone to accomplish. A detailed dialogue regarding what is being asked for, what resources and time will be available, how problems will be handled, how changes in the plans will be handled, who is responsible for each task and work item, and how help can be obtained is essential to avoiding misunderstandings and naïve, insincere, or unreliable commitments. Trust demands both intent and ability. Often the entrepreneur’s inability to complete an assigned task is addressed by the bureaucrat as a lack of intent, poor motivation, not caring or lack of loyalty. The bureaucrat may complain about the inability to motivate people around here. Why is there no sense of urgency? When is he finally going to listen to what I am asking for and get up and go to work on this? The bureaucrat will then ask for additional sacrifice from the entrepreneur, as a demonstration of sincere intent. Unfortunately the result is mistaking sacrifice for commitment. As an entrepreneur, use this map to describe the region where you believe you can work to carry out the requested task. Don’t let a commitment of yes - best effort be misunderstood for an unconditional commitment. A well-intended Yankee spirit commitment can later become as damaging as planned sabotage. Affirm your good intent and address specific difficulties. Ask the bureaucrat for help in overcoming these difficulties.


The Empowered Manager: Positive Political Skills at Work, by Peter Block  

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