By Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja)
I have been fortunate to work in both flat and vertical organizations. But lately, I have come to realize that organizations are moving more and more towards vertical structures rather than a flatter one.
This is bothersome, for the more people involved in a hierarchy, the longer it takes for work to get done. This leads to longer meetings, more arguments, more convincing to do, and more signatures to get. There is a famous saying that says: ‘if too many people try to take charge at a task, the end product might be ruined.’ I say, that if too many people try to take charge at a task, then the end product WILL be ruined completely. This is what I call the ‘too many crooks’ syndrome.
Let me give you some insights on this. A friend I knew worked in a Marketing field in the early 2000’s. She had one boss so things ran smoothly because he always gave her directions, fast approvals that got things done, and appraised her fairly based on the interactions he had with her. Fast forward to a couple of years later, an organisational restructure occurred. Now, her boss had a boss and that is when the nightmare began.
Her directions were not clear anymore. Her boss told her to do one thing while her boss’s boss told her to do another. She would tell her boss of the change and he would end up scolding her and giving her weaker points on her appraisal. Situations such as these make you wonder if she should ignore her boss whom she reports to and respects? Or should she simply follow a high ranking individual in the organisation (boss’s boss) and do what he requests her to do?
How about this scenario, a couple of years after that, another organisational restructure had occurred. Now, her boss had a boss, and his boss had a boss (a little note I must add is that the 2 higher ranking boss had absolutely no clue in Marketing). Things got even worse after that.
I will respect seniors in an organisation, listen to their directions, and discuss it with them. However, I also must convey to them that I also have my own skills set and talent to show in my work. After all, if you do not listen to what I have to say, then why hire me in the first place for this position? If I keep accepting requests because they came from a higher-ranking individual then not only will it be left incomplete, but they will also have successfully managed to deteriorate any creativity in projects.
Let us put the above incident aside and discuss another type of ‘too many cooks’ syndrome’. I was in a meeting once discussing the Public Relations (PR) plan of the year to my boss and his boss. The meeting went really smoothly, we had healthy discussions (surprise!), and I almost got an approval. However, a person walked in -Head of Information Technologies (IT)- to just say hello and my boss’s boss simply asked him ‘what do you think of this plan by the way?’
I not only had to redo the whole presentation again, but I had to listen to him for 47 minutes (not exaggerating) on how he will do things differently and what the final plan should be like. The worst part was that my boss’s boss was nodding his head in agreement all that time. That meeting ended up with a decision that I had to redo the plan again!
As much as I always welcome constructive feedback and healthy discussions, I cannot say that I was too happy about the situation. In fact, I was downright mad. Let us look at it from my perspective. At the end of the day, I was hired for my knowledge and skills in my field to get this job done. I cannot have another person from another department talk on behalf of my work, regardless of their rank in the organization. It would be like me (Communications Expert) telling an IT Manager my thoughts on system infrastructure, etc… Hello? I do not have the right knowledge to have an opinion on that subject.
I see this happening more and more often now. It makes me wonder, why is this happening now? It was much simpler before. Everyone relied on everyone else’s skills and expertise and work moved smoothly. Has trust become an issue? Are senior members being more scrutinized that they need so many people involved to make a decision? Is the world more demanding? Or are we simply getting too impatient and want things to move quicker by being careless? I would love to hear your thoughts, and work examples on this topic.
Sail eMagazine’s 19th Issue – October 2011
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Community Talk – Just Another Undergrad
Scenes from Life – Syndication – The First Years Last Forever
The Mind’s Eye – Too Blunt for Words – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Fatma (Fay), Emirati girl, with an experience in Corporate Communications and CSR. She is passionate about anything that is traditional and Emirati. In her free time she loves to watch Japanese anime, read manga, and play videogames. Spas are not the only thing that relaxes her, but cooking as well.
Fay’s columns observe work-life experiences and balance. A lot of her articles are based on first-hand personal experiences and issues she has seen or been part of. She loves to observe her surroundings, and watch how people handle different situations they’ve been put in.Also, she is trying to balance the art of staying positive at work and helping her peers understand that not everything should be a problem. With her writings she hopes to make a difference and make people more observant of the little problems in life, or work that hasn’t escalated to a catastrophe. It’s the little things that matters.