Taking away systems, processes or procedures that actually work very well can be an excellent way of controlling your staff and ensuring that they don’t show up your inadequacies.
Some managers make the mistake of allowing intelligent, innovative, able and proactive staff to set up systems that work extremely well for the customers, the employees and even for shareholders (if you’re unlucky enough to have to worry about that lot). However, the serious danger is that these genuinely effective systems will show up senior managers and the systems they devise, or approve, as being the embodiment of inefficiency and inadequacy that they are.
So what do you do? It’s best to have outside authorities to blame – that is, to which you can attribute the demands for change. As is the zeitgeist, compliance bodies often provide a suitable solution. Of course, their demands are often as pointless, or even as destructive, as yours. But the point is, they are not you. Therefore when you tell your staff that they have to shut down their effective, efficient systems, you can commiserate with them. You can tell them how much you have appreciated all that they have done; but, alas, it is the compliance body that is forcing this change.
Of course, when you have shut down the effective systems devised by your staff, you are now completely in control. Because they have been minimally engaged with your ineffective, inefficient systems they will know little about how they work. As they adapt to the new operational protocols and systems, they will have to rely on you and your team to know what to do and how to solve the multitude of previously non-existent problems. This works to your advantage: you now have proof of how many times they log calls for assistance. Proof that they’re not as clever or as competent as people who admired their work used to think.
And, now that they’re enmeshed in your systems, it is immeasurably easier to control them. After all, you can dictate how the systems work; you can change the rules at any time to make it harder for them; you can grant or deny the various levels of security or administration access. They have no choice other than to do your bidding. Perfect.