Organization Charts Institute Hierarchy and Control At a Price

This is the twenty-second Blog in a weekly series regarding the state of leadership in America. The use of organization charts in government offices and businesses is widespread. These charts are intended to represent and display an organization’s formal management hierarchy or chain of command and define the authorized flow of communications up and down this hierarchy. Many of these organization charts typically have four to five levels encompassing supervisors, managers and executives with a corresponding set of organizational job titles. This super structure is installed over the workforce. While this concept of operation will definitely ensure management control of work and people, there are a multitude of problems associated with operating under the weight of these hierarchal structures:
• Each management layer has a tendency to screen the communications going up the chain of command and put their own spin on communications coming down the chain.
• There is a natural inclination by managers to procrastinate on raising issues up the chain until they have been thoroughly vetted at the lower level. This process often takes an inordinate amount of time. Management officials typically believe that passing problem cases or policy issues to their bosses for discussion or resolution will reflect poorly on them.
• Adherence to the protocol of a formal hierarchy often stifles innovation and initiative from the workforce because of the multiple levels of approval required to obtain changes to policy or operating procedures. Delegations of authority are minimal and decision-making is normally retained at the upper levels of the organization at the expense of the first level leaders and the workforce, where the work is actually being performed.
• Over time there is a loss of a sense of urgency to deal with issues raised and instead, individual managers are content with maintaining the status quo because of the difficulty of getting someone to make a decision. Even the smallest issue requires an extended wait time for resolution.
• Risk-taking is discouraged because this implies experimenting outside of the command and control boundaries of the organization. An absence of risk-taking locks in organizational mediocrity.
Consequently, a structure with a strong centralized decision making apparatus comes at a high price. As an alternative, an organizational structure that eliminates much of middle management and thereby flattens the structure will be more responsive to customer and employee needs and balance the desire for control with initiative, risk-taking, and innovation. Decision makers need to be close to the workforce and first-line leaders to stay abreast of the fast changing workplace and world within which organizations operate. Good leaders recognize this; poor leaders are control freaks.

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This entry was posted in Business, Government, Leadership, Leadership DNA, Management, Paul Okum, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Organization Charts Institute Hierarchy and Control At a Price

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