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Teach Your Employees To Respect The Chain-of-Command

Article | May 11, 2019

Respect for chain-of-command is essential for the smooth growth, prosperity and effective management of an organization. If it works in the Army, it will prove invaluable in your business structure.

Within a pyramidal organization, respect for the chain-of-command is crucial for effective management. At first, it may seem excessively rigid—as if you’re running your business like the Army—but it’s the only way for your company to function like a well-oiled machine.

Some business owners seek to flatten their organizations, spreading decision-making amongst the various departmental managers. Even in these types of scenarios, training employees to recognize and follow a chain-of-command will support operations. If it works in the Army where lives are at stake, it will prove invaluable in your business structure as well.

The chain-of-command in different organizations varies, but should resemble the following:

  • Workers report to their Team Leader
  • Team Leaders report to their Managers
  • Managers report to the COO
  • And finally, if the owner is involved in the on-site operations, the COO reports to the owner.

If a problem arises, each tier of management should have the opportunity to handle it however they see fit. If the problem cannot be resolved at that stratum, it is forwarded up the chain-of-command. In other words, issues are most effectively dealt with at the lowest possible level, elevating only if the immediate supervisor cannot provide a satisfactory resolution.

Once a resolution is reached, it makes its way back down the same chain to be implemented.

This system is simple in theory but sometimes proves difficult in practice.

When an Employee Breaks Rank

Employees jumping ranks and reporting to whomever they want is unacceptable. This action disrespects the immediate supervisor and brings problems to higher-ranked individuals who likely don’t have time to address issues that could have been handled at a lower tier. The result is chaos, the risk of managers feeling undermined, and ineffective communication and decision-making since the appropriate parties have been cut out of the process.

Aside from proper training of employees, your management team must be equipped to recognize when inappropriate communication is occurring between the ranks, and must be empowered to prevent such issues. Effectively communicating expectations to managers will ensure that employees attempting to deviate from this system are sent to the correct administrator.

You must make it clear to your employees that they do not have the ability to report issues to whomever they feel, whenever they choose. This must be spelled out clearly and often until it is deeply ingrained in your organization.

When employees respect this protocol, issues can be handled smoothly and efficiently. Communications can be disbursed in a timely manner, enhancing your management strategy and overall business decorum. Indeed, while this approach may seem rigid and stern, it supports order and this is an advantage worth defending.

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