The hierarchical structure of the workplace has been the norm for far too long. Born of necessity, this method of organizing management allows those in any leadership role to act as information gatekeepers. The only way to get information up the organization is to hope that these gatekeepers allow it to flow up, and the only way to understand what’s going on in the organization is to hope that these same gatekeepers allow information to be disseminated. Worst case scenario, this power infects managers who become too proud to share the information they have, to the detriment of everyone. Best case scenario, they share everything they can but being too often overwhelmed with too many tasks, information is still lost.
This set up negatively affects the entire company. The folks on the bottom of the chain feel left out and undervalued. While those at the top of the chain miss out on potentially innovative ideas and suffer from the ignorance of not truly knowing about the lower ranks.
The hierarchical structure of the workplace kills information flow.
Without healthy information flow companies lose millions. From miscommunications to missed ideas, from disengaged employers to high turnover, marrying the flow of information with the structure of management only hurts a company.
The new buzzword in the employee engagement space is “transparency.” A hip new word that is essentially just urging for increased communication and a decongestion of the current information flow. Transparency has been adopted with great success at many forward-thinking organizations.
In a recent podcast with Amy Cappellanti-Wolf, CHRO of Symantec, she details some of the problems companies face as they strive to be more transparent. Equipped with direct-to-employee communication technology like email and intranets, executives are opening the firehose and pouring out information to employees. They then sit back and pat themselves on the back thinking they’re being transparent. Amy detailed that while those newsletters from the corner office may be sent with good intentions, they are missing the mark. For information to be useful to employees there has to be a balance. It has to be “just in time” information. The shelf life of information in an organization is too short to bother sending out everything. The burden is on management to both open upward channels of communication and then disseminate as much valuable, relevant information as possible.
The combined effectiveness of the group intellect is wasted when information isn’t shared. To gain a decisive competitive advantage, companies must libe