We have always thought that we were working because our bosses needed us. We thought, we were there to ‘help’ our bosses meet certain targets. We thought, we were hired because the organisation needs us.
Well! The truth is actually a little different. Would you believe, if someone were to tell you that the truth is the other way round? That, it is because of us, that our bosses exist, so that they could facilitate an efficient completion of their tasks? The typical pyramidal structure of organisations is shrinking. Every business today works as an inverted pyramid, whereby, every position in the pyramid works towards facilitating the role of the widest base of the pyramid- the front-line executives.
For a company that’s selling a product, the highest value addition happens at the front-line, with the remaining part helping this front-liners do what they are expected to. And this restructuring cannot happen all by itself, it calls for an efficient leader who can motivate his/her team to think that they are ‘needed’ by their organizations. Some amount of mindset streamlining is also needed, by the front-lines, to get out of hierarchical mentality.
CLOSEST TO ACTION
Front line executives are the touch point of contact between the customers and an enterprise. Hence, the skills with which they handle a customer at this point, decides the future of a business customer relationship. Quite naturally then, a lot needs to be empowered to take day-to-day decisions.
Consultants iterate that the conventional pyramid with fewer senior positions has not changed. The way we looked at a structure, as a top down command and control structure in terms of ‘roles’, has changed.
BUSINESS SENSE OF INVERSION
So, if retaining customer loyalty is the key, one of the best ways to ensure this is by supporting frontline employees. Sometimes, an insecure manager might just not want to delegate responsibilities and if at all they do it’s under tremendous power shift downwards leading to an inverted pyramidal structure.
By putting more decision-making power into the hands of those on the lower rungs of the hierarchy – who are closest to the ‘action’ – especially in the IT and the ITES industries, organisations can act faster and effectively. The top management plays the role of a strategist, but the execution of the strategy is done by the people at the base of the pyramid.
Managers need to spend considerable amount of time in the field, interacting with front line teams collecting first hand feedback from them. This is essential because front liners are in constant contact with customers, and understand the market’s growing needs.
Any knowledge oriented organisation would need this kind of a structure. At organisations where large scale recruitments are constantly happening for global clients, it is the front-line associates who are facing the customers.
HIERARCHY IS PASSÉ
Hierarchical organisation structure is a passé now. It negates today’s rapidly changing market where decisions need to be quick and frontline executives need to be alert to the requirements. So whether or not to evolve is no longer the choice. Yes, how you adapt to change is your choice. So what really happens is, they keep the chunk of the responsibilities to themselves and leave the mundane stuff to others; ensuring that the applauses come to them and brick bats get ducked to the front-liners.
Servant leadership’ is the other side of the mentorship coin – and unless leaders believe that they are serving the best interests of the organization and the people within the organizations, there is no way that they will impact anyone.
WHEN EMPOWERMENT IS ELUSIVE
Organizations fail to implement this structure because of lack of information, low perseverance, and the inability to truly empower team members – where leaders override the team decisions – leading to ‘empowerment’ remaining an elusive concept.
More often than not, managers are unable to see this in the right perspective without losing a sense of importance. More importantly, even at the bottom, the hierarchy mindset that we are brought up with hinders from accepting this philosophy easily.
Proper planning of strategy execution and what it will imply for those who have to actually carry out the execution is needed. The required structure is all about a two way system, in which there are a number of performers and there is the infrastructure, including personnel and facilities, to support it. So, it boils down to the need for managers to act more like ‘colleagues’ and less like ‘bosses’.