“We are a flat hierarchy organization!”
Time and again we have heard professionals state this – be it during a sales meeting, a seminar, a casual conversation, or even in a job description. This proclamation is good news! In fact, from the millennials to the most experienced will vouch for the redundancy of a hierarchical structure in its strictest sense.
...And rightly so!
In today’s business environment where time is money, things need to move fast, and decisions need to be made quickly. Not many would relish and cherish spending their time waiting for ‘approvals’ to come through conventional approaches like ‘go-up-the-ladder’ and ‘look-for-that-familiar-face’. Processes will become easier, more effective and efficient if those conventional boundaries are eradicated.
The question that immediately follows is - ‘Don’t you need to set accountabilities?’
The answer to this is simple. How about empowering people while setting accountabilities? It certainly keeps the ball rolling faster. I have personally seen it work at Axtria. Or rather, I have personally lived it.
When I stepped into the organization four years ago as a rookie leader with a mandate to setup Delivery Excellence, I was told what was needed to be done. What I wasn’t told was “how it had to be done.” So here was a set objective against which I had to deliver the strategy, plan, approach, timelines and of course, the success criteria.
What pushed me to achieve it was this very autonomy and flexibility I was looking for – “Go, open that door you want; press that bell which you wish to; and shout out loud for an individual from whom you want to seek help.” The organization trusted me to know what I wanted and to ask the right questions while following their core values.
It could appear daunting at times but then you learn to swim past your challenges. It gives you the confidence that one needs when you know there are people out there who really want you to succeed. The mantra is simple – do your work and reach out to us when you need.
This is the same approach I have been aspiring to follow with my team as well. Yes, sometimes (quite a few times) it is tough to let go. You want that every ounce of information being generated by your team members to be run by you first. You want that communication to ‘always’ go past you before it reaches the super bosses. You want to have ‘your viewpoint’ incorporated in that million-dollar strategy that has been put together before it reaches the boardroom.
You do want that, and a lot more, because you believe you have earned the right to that level of due diligence. Fair enough.
However, this is where the thin line between your insecurities and the confidence that you have in your team members be addressed. There are some questions you need to ask yourself -– ‘Do you want to know everything because you don’t trust your team member’s abilities enough?’, or ‘Can you actually facilitate this action in a smoother manner if the multiple conversation channels are eradicated, and you allow your team member to move swiftly without oversight?’
The moment you have clarity around this, it becomes easier to propagate flat hierarchy. Start with your team. We can’t always wait for the ones higher up to set this example. Once we set this example for our team and begin to see its benefits, you will realize you have much more time available. Once that happens, you can contribute more at a higher level. As a result, your Management will see you contributing more effectively and efficiently, and they too will be in a happy space to let go as well.
Yes, that’s the key – ‘let go,’ and see how the team thrives. And in turn, the organization as well!
This is where the magic begins!
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