Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Flat hierarchy

This article is about motivation and responsibility. Speaking of motivation I avoid to refer to the common explanation about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. I just want to write about my experiences regarding motivation of employees within a company.
During my work at different companies I was always asking myself how is motivation related to the employees connection with the company. Most companies are advertising flat hierarchies and this is what you will most probably get:

If you are lucky "Lead Developer", "Guru", "Master Chief" and "Architect" roles are missing. To keep it simple I've reduced the roles to Developer, Senior Developer, Tech Lead and CTO.

I experienced that motivation is directly related to responsibility and business inclusion of employees.
If you take a closer look at the picture you will see that the bars are raising the higher the position of the person is.
The Developer at the lowest level shouldn't have a high responsibility. Thus he is not that well into the business. If the company gets stuck he is just looking out for a new position without strong feelings.
Same for the Senior Developer. He knows the application very well and assigns tasks to the Developer. If live bugs occur it is up to the Senior to analyse and act. He doesn't have to be so much into business but he can.
The Team Lead should have a stronger connection with the business and the company. He often gets business targets which have to be fulfilled in a time frame.
The CTO/Owner has the strongest business connection. He knows the numbers and the health status of the company.

So what  advantages does this hierarchy have?

First: Titles are looking good in your CV. You have the possibility to claim the latter of roles within the company (until a certain point).

Second: Faster decision process.
Decisions can be met very fast and pushed from upper levels to the lower.
The problem is that Developers are known to have their own opinion about things and could get very grumpy if they will be ignored. If they aren't involved in the decision process the responsibility and business rate will lower even more.

Third: if something went bad we know who to talk to ... do we?
Problem is that lower level says "I've just implemented it the way you said" and upper level says "I've done all I can to push the task but it didn't work out."
A decent finger pointing will be evolved and if it gets ugly the person with the higher responsibility will be blamed.

Of course there are people who take high responsibility at the lowest level. These people want to have their work appreciated. How to do this?
Give them another title (one can be very creative at this point)? Raise the salary?
These solutions are just short-range solutions. At some point there is no free title anymore and the salary cannot be raised higher than the next level.

But wait. Its a company. A company can grow. If its growing new departments can be opened and new positions are free.

So at this point I definitely lost the point...
What was this all about? A Motivation. I'll write about it tomorrow.

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