Resources: Blog Post

November 5, 2015

When hierarchy goes awry

Have you experienced either of these scenarios?

  • “I’m being micromanaged. My boss is breathing down my neck, constantly checking my work. It seems like her whole job is to focus on my work and make my life a living hell.”
  • “My boss is constantly frustrated with me, but won’t take the time to give me direction or even tell me what I am doing wrong. I don’t know what I’m really supposed to be doing, so I just do stuff and hope I get it right.”

These are classic organizational dysfunctions called “compressions” and “gaps.” The root causes of which go beyond ineffective management and bad hiring. It is a manifestation of poor organizational leveling – or, hierarchy gone awry.

Hierarchy at workFifty years of research and chin-tugging common sense shows that “levels” occur naturally on the way to the achievement of strategy. Ignoring or defying these levels results in dysfunction.

Work at each level of an organization is distinctly different from the level above or below. Each requires a specific type of skill and focus, and provides a vital step in the execution of strategy. If an organization misses a level in the execution, it results in a gap that can only be filled by managers dropping down from the work-at-level they are expected (and paid) to do. This creates a gap “above” the manager.

More levels, more time

At each level, the complexity of planning requires more time. Your frontline is planning out up to three months ahead, whereas the CEO of a medium-sized corporation is planning out five to 10 years. For an incumbent to be successful in a role at a particular level, he or she must be able to function at that level of complexity. If not, then the incumbent dives down to the level of complexity he or she can handle, resulting in compression with the direct report “below” and a gap with the manager “above”.

In Praise of Hierarchy – Conquering the hidden structural barriers to effectiveness, efficiency and trust
Wednesday, November 18 – 7:30 a.m. at The National Club

SCNetwork’s next session will focus on organizational structure. Led by Julian Chapman, president of Forrest & Company, the session will challenges you to take a closer look at what you assume about hierarchy and give you insight on how HR can make change for the better.

Register for In Praise of Hierarchy here

For more information on hierarchies, Forrest & Company has resources for review:

The Cost of Vertically Misaligned Management
The Nature of Things (organizational levels included)
Capability in Role: The “Other” Gaps & Compressions

Image of Michael ClarkAbout the Author

Michael Clark is director of sales and marketing at Forrest & Company in Toronto. Forrest is an organizational transformation firm, with more than 25 years’ experience in developing the organizational and leadership capacity in organizations.

Filed under: effectiveness, hierarchy, michael clark, structure Tagged: effectiveness, hierarchy, michael clark, structure
LinkedIn Facebook Google+ Twitter