November, 22 2017: Vertical Organizations

2016-2017 Issue 1

IMG_3981Welcome back. Our focus for this year’s biweekly column is professional fulfillment. Continuing from our previous look into well-thought out and well-informed career paths, we are adding the dimension of organizational cultures so that you build your professional development on a foundation of confidence and fit for the long term.

Today, in this second article in our new series, we tackle management structures. More specifically, we put the spotlight on vertical vs. horizontal decision-making processes, and your preference for working in one or the other of these frameworks.

Scenario A: Vertical Structures

Imagine yourself in a meeting introducing the team to your new manager. The meeting takes place in a boardroom or auditorium, with hierarchical seating arrangements and allotted speaking times in the agenda. The boss’s assistant has sent the invitation a week in advance along with a meeting outline and supporting documentation.

The new manager arrives last, but perfectly on time, wearing formal attire and a commanding presence, and with a deep, eloquent voice, immediately takes the floor. He welcomes the group, asserts his new role by providing an overview of his education and prior accomplishments, and launches into the strategic (re)direction that he has unilaterally thought through. Covering each item with confidence and poise, he assigns tasks and a timeline to each department head present and concludes the meeting by establishing the next date in the reporting schedule.

Now how do you feel? Are you reassured and inspired by what you would call the manager’s ‘competence’, his clear instructions, preparedness and stronghold on the company’s goals and operations? Do you attribute his firmness to credibility?

Or, perhaps it is quite the opposite? Are you annoyed by what you perceive to be arrogance and a complete lack of care for you and your peers? Are you allergic to a management style that dictates rather than consults?

There is, of course, no right or wrong answer here. The new boss wanted to appear ‘credible,’ but the effect on you may have either been that of trust or of revolt, and whichever your gut reaction, you should listen to it!

So what about the other extreme? Join us in two weeks’ time for a fun simulation of a team meeting in a horizontal structure, and let’s then determine the environment in which you are most likely to thrive.

Connect with Maia and McGill’s School of Continuing Studies on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published in French in 24heures Montreal.

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