More Problems Than We Had Before

“Let’s look back at your org chart,” I suggested. “You have 110 employees and twelve layers of supervision and management. Two people quit yesterday, so your org chart is already out of date. What do you think you need to change?”

Sydney’s mood had turned from generous to perplexed. “Our intention was to make sure everyone had someone appropriate to report, and to make sure no manager was overburdened.”

“And you ended up with?” I pressed.

“And we ended up with people in positions, creating more problems than we had, before we announced this new reorganization,” Sydney explained.

“I want you to shift your approach to this problem. Instead of trying to figure out who should report to who, determine which manager is accountable for the output of which team. And for this exercise, I want you to reduce from 12 layers to four.”

A friend of mine in Buffalo NY, Michael Cardus, published a short piece on the impact of role-crowding, too many layers. Take a look.

One thought on “More Problems Than We Had Before

  1. Michael Cardus

    Thanks for the mention.
    By you pointing me to Elliott Jaques it has changed my work and view of organizations and teams. This concern of excessive layers is a weird thing we do to think that we are making things better. And, when it blows up companies rarely think it is because creating too many layers is the problem (generally because the higher ranking management agreed that it was good). Instead they punish the front-line staff and make them go through personality tests and team building programs. Then get even more angry with them when nothing changes. Systems-Drive-Behaviors and people intuitively will seek out those in the hierarchy who can really help their work.


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