Saratoga says that large organizations have an average of 7 to 9 hierarchical levels. This means from the top to the bottom, there are 8 layers of management. I’m going to make some assumptions and say that a lot of these organizations (based on the fact that they are mostly older, more mature organizations), are brick and mortars. The fact of the matter is that while strict hierarchies and chains of command present easier access to good governance processes, I’m not sure they facilitate great connections. Especially at the top levels of the organization, access to conversations can sometimes be quite restricted. ((Reference to ants happened in an actual conversation))
I am reminded about hierarchies and access from sitting in the airport today. Lately I have been getting a lot of LinkedIn activity, and as I sat there updating my profile, connecting to people at many organizational levels, and having conversations through the web, I thought about the juxtaposition of rigid hierarchy versus easy accessibility through Web 2.0. Today’s world and today’s younger workers expect not only to be able to form networks at all levels, but they expect accessibility.
As we develop within organizations, there is probably a realization at some point that very few of us are going to get to that SVP and EVP level. Most of us are going to stay “ants” for our careers, and that’s both ok and necessary. But the way we work and shape the future of HR is going to be more about collaboration than rigid hierarchies. The new model simply isn’t going to work with the old model. We no longer believe we’re just worker ants doing the bidding of the hive. We believe we all have ideas and we can contribute.
The problem with all of this is that we need to find a way to combine good collaboration expectations with good governance and decision making. However, millenials don’t really care about the lines drawn between hierarchical levels, and the experience that senior executives have accrued. Collaboration and access don’t correlate to good, sound decision making that is influenced by corporate strategy. We need to find a balance between rigid hierarchies that restrict access and the ability for individuals to work in the new model.