Disintegration Of Command And Control For Emergence Of Connect And Collaborate

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 3141 , Published on 05 May 2014

Leadership is something which we do with the people and not to the people.

“In the 1990s General Motors (GM), the world’s largest car manufacturer, laid off 74,000 workers, closed 21 plants, and suffered from a staff bureaucracy that was in many places redundant. GM came to symbolize the bloated inefficiency of a contemporary hierarchical organization.”

Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, Master isolated images

Today ask any CEO what is the biggest problem they face? They say, “Our organization needs more leaders at the bottom of the pyramid.” Irony is that organizations, structure themselves in such a way which doesn’t leave a stone unturned in ensuring that leadership is not developed. Today organizations encourage role-plays, limited liabilities, limited responsibilities, limited exposure and very narrow way to develop or enhance the career to their employees with the every day reminder of who they are and what they stand for.

Traditional leadership focuses majorly on command and control and little on connect and collaborate. Control is often achieved by following principles of management like division of labor, centralization, chain of command et cetera. All this serves the purpose of making employees know their duties, their boundaries, their limitations and ofcourse stability, predicted career paths etc are achieved by the management. In such organization structure, generally, communication flows from top to bottom and no or very little input comes from the bottom of the pyramid, as shown in the following figure –

Fig 1.1 Communication Flow in a typical Organization

In this kind of Organizational Structure the employees at the lowest or bottom level have nothing or a very little say in several decisions. They were not asked about the decisions concerning themselves, leave alone decisions concerning the organization. This kind of system neither encourages leadership skills in the employees nor the belongingness or sense of responsibility. Here, the power belongs to the position and not to the person and this setting has led us believe that leadership comes with the position and this has damaged our capacity to understand leadership more than anything else. In many ways, we can see managers as a single brain and workers as hands -

Fig 1.2 Manager as Brain and Hands as Workers

In this type of organizations structure, Managers command and control the workers or the employees at the lower level of the hierarchy, thus killing all the scope of creativity, sense of responsibility and leadership.

Emergence of Connect and Collaborate

Even the ageing dinosaurs have to change and transform themselves according to the needs of the global economy.

Today’s organizations tend to adopt a much flatter structures to use the human capital as much as possible. We often call organizations with such structure as “Non-hierarchical Organizations”. Instead of having a managerial hierarchy of 10-12 layers, flat organizations have 3-4 layers which ensures that even employees at bottom level get enough chance to showcase their leadership skills. Flat organizations tries to arrange work first and not the employees. They are much more connected, networked and have been called Heterarchies. These kinds of organizations have employees and teams which are self-managed, self-guided, multidisciplinary and motivated and power flows from expertise, not position. In these kinds of organizations, a decentralized approach to the management exists and so is the high employee engagement in the decision making process.

Control in non-hierarchical organizations lies in the trust which management have on their employees that set the performance expectations. Control is distributed through out the organization with people responsible for their own work. They self manage, self organize, self design, seek corrective action, take initiative to help others in case of need and in turn management help them in case of any issue. They design their own career paths, where they want to go and how they want to go. In non-hierarchical organizations, main incentive of work is to work for yourself. Leadership in such organizations is shared, as opposed to traditionally structured organizations where leadership or power revolves around the top of the pyramid.

In non-hierarchical organizations, where focus is on connecting and collaborating the employees, the workers acts their own managers. Like, we saw earlier, in traditional organizations, there was only one manager (brain), managing the group of workers (hands); In non-hierarchical organizations, we convert those hands (workers) in managers (brains) so that they can manage themselves and in turn organizations can take out the maximum out of its employees which in turn will drastically improve the performance of the organization, satisfaction level of the employees and will reduce the cost of hiring new managers to manage these hidden managers.

Fig 1.3 Finding hidden managers in workers at lower level


Organizations today should be flexible enough to change their structure in case of need. Today we are going global, business has no boundaries then why to keep boundaries on your employees? Organizations of today and future must innovate and take risks. One of the risks is to reinvent/restructure themselves. Employees will perform at their best if they know that they are free to manage themselves and they are free to set their own career goals and path to reach those goals. Leaders should create more leaders within the organization by carving out the hidden and unexplored capabilities of their employees.

Ofcourse there are few risks and disadvantages associated with this kind of setting but the advantages which a organizations gets by such structure often overshadows such risks. Connect and Collaborate is the word, ladies and gentlemen.

This article has been authored by Robin Jain from SCMHRD


Image 1.1- http://chefrepreneur.com

Image 1.2- http://stemgenex.com/blog/adultstemcelldiscoveredinthebrain.html and http://idaholabor.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/focusing-on-skills-knowledge-helps-elicia-johnson-land-a-job/


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