In a large organization, employees are assigned specific, limited assignments requiring a specific set of skills. The larger the organization, the larger the specialization.
The problem is, by increasing the number of specializations, new layers of management are added.
Specialized employees need to be interfaced between each others. The work needs to be coordinated, the tasks distributed, in order to make sure that the overall project is getting done.
The advantage of specialization is that the organization can get very educated and experienced people that can take things further in a particular field.
However the major drawback is the lack of accountability.
The problem with accountability, is that when a project scope is so vast and complex, that hundreds of employees and subcontractors are required to carry it out, the individual responsibility of each individual become very diluted.
And the more layers of middle management, the more the accountability drops and the outcome of each individual becomes blurry.
The good news is, with the progress of information technologies, the tracking of progress of a person, a team, a project, or a company becomes easier.
Because of this evolution, teams can be accountable again. Here are some ideas of what can be done :
- Chop the projets into intermediate deliverables, larger than an individual, smaller than a full scale project,
- Create smaller multidisciplinary teams, that can collaborate towards a defined goal,
- Play with the synchronous / asynchronous communication. With the latest tools, and performance enhancements of internet connections, the team may use a wider range of tools from chat messages to live face-to-face meetings.
- Create a set of clear indicators of measurement for the performance of the teams, that can easily indicate that they progress towards the key objectives. These indicators are today easier to track and administrate.
The communication flows better between team members. Additional means of communication can be used, and collaborate can occur with remote teams, in an ever more fluid fashion on more complex projects.
The projects are getting done faster, and the team progresses towards their objective without bumps on the way.
Now, the size of the middle management is not justified any longer.
The teams thank their manager in advance. They are working towards something tangible, they are accountable without having a middle manager micro-managing them on their back.
Their team members push each other’s so they don’t slack behind in the team effort.
And the top management can take a breath and focus on the things that matter : solving actually important and critical problems, and planning the future.