The military is one of the best examples of the top-down approach. The chain-of-command works in a way where instructions move from one person to another, and ensures the efficiency and flow of a large headcount. These instructions may be static, which works less effectively in certain situations because of the dynamic nature military personnel work in. Those who have served in such an organisation, military or not would know the agonising pain and annoyance of listening to a superior order you to do something even when you know that there is a better way to handle the issue. You keep mum and do it simply because the protocol (and your superior) says so. Perhaps your approach could have worked better, and perhaps there would be lesser safety issues, but who knows? You couldn’t suggest it even if you wanted to.
That is all set to change. The top-down approach is losing its touch in a world where people are more vocal and aware of their needs and environment.
Why Bold Lines Need To Be Blurred
Drawing lines between managers and their staff may not be the best idea. When you label yourself as more superior than the other, you are keeping a system that has shown itself to be less effective when camaraderie in the workplace is important.
There are strong reasons for one to avoid a conversation or a fruitful discussion. Of the many, the predominant one would be because of a difference in authority. For instance, it would be difficult for you to debate or discuss a certain issue with the President because their position holds a lot more authority than any other role. This could be despite the fact that you are certainly more knowledgeable than they are. But what if the scenario was altered that the person you are having the discussion with is someone of the same perceived stature as you? You would be more willing to have that conversation that you would likely forgo with someone that holds a lot more considerable weight. The main factor that triggered a difference in outcome is naturally their status. A higher status would intimidate those that are lower, and the flight or fight (leaning a lot more towards flight) response would be triggered. Creating an environment where it is okay for individuals to speak professionally and freely to ensure the betterment of a project and cause would give rise to better ideas and fresher perspectives. If you require just people who nod and smile at all of your comments, then you can ignore the above but that is rarely the case for most businesses and individuals today.
There is only so much you can do through forceful means before someone decides to defect. In the extreme situation where ranks are being “pulled” too often, your work and social circle may even dwindle exponentially, and rapidly.
What Subordinates Can Do To Change Things
Asking some bosses to change their managerial style is a difficult task and may actually put you into their bad books. Hence, it is imperative to be tactful about the way you throw your suggestions about.
Ignoring the need to change their managerial style, it is important for you to adapt to fit their approach. If your boss adores the top-down approach, it would be wise for you to bounce some small suggestions around when the chance pops up. This can be in situations such as meetings or even during lunch. That said, it is also important to speak about it without negating their ideas but instead offer a complementary solution to theirs. Crushing their idea may not be so smart when they are more resistant to change.
Gradually as time progresses, their communicative style towards you might be different and you would be able to gain some sort of respect. They would favour your suggestions, but till then, be subtle about it.
Of course, various managerial styles exist, and communicating with these different styles at a whim can be difficult. It is important then to constantly practice and work towards it. Speak with us and find out how understanding your own behavioural style can help improve relations with those around you and how you can enhance your career.