Chain of Command In the World of Business

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In the world of business, communication has to exist for any company to meet the goals of employees and of its own. As in the military a chain has been developed so that all troops can understand that flow of communication and authority. This style is known as the chain of command which is defined as: “The order in which authority and power in an organization is wielded and delegated from top management to every employee at every level of the organization. Instructions flow downward along the chain of command and accountability flows upward.

” (Web Finance, 2013) In 14 years of personal experience in the military this style would benefit the current organization I am employed by and have been for the last 2 years. In our current structure we have two Managers- direct and 2nd level, then a Director and at the highest level our Vice President. In this format sometimes our direct manger is left out of the loop and never giving a chance to perform his duties when the 2nd level Manager comes directly to us.

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According to Kelchner (2013), “An established chain of command creates efficiency when reporting problems or communicating with workers. For example, when a worker communicates a problem to his supervisor’s manager, the supervisor doesn’t have an opportunity to correct the problem. ” Since our current format of management has a fault, corrections need to be made and all of us as an organization need to follow it so the chain stays strong by working effectively. This chain of command theory is just the start and when used with 5 subcomponents will in the end help reach personal and company goals.

The first and most valuable subcomponent is being an active listener; this would apply to all individuals in the chain of command. Being an “active listening means being fully engaged in paying attention to your relational partner’s communication with you. ” (Kreps, 2011) This means not just hearing what a person has to say but remembering too, if you can’t remember then you are not really listening. According to Kreps (2011), “organizational participants often do not engage in active listening or pay close attention to others’ messages.

” When an individual is not active they generate the potential for missing a key instruction, a possible problem with safety or something as simple as an employee not feeling well. These all affect the overall task of accomplishing goals which can cost an individual their job and lose money for them self along with the company. It can also cause someone to get hurt or even worse cost them their life simple because they were not engage in conversation properly. “To be an effective listener, you need to pay attention to not only the words being said, but you must also be cognizant of non-verbal cues.

So much of communication is non-verbal. ” (Waikato Times, 2012) The one thing all individuals in our organization can do is stop whatever they are doing, focus on the person speaking, hear and watch body language and paraphrase back what they are trying to say so the know you understand them. When this finally takes place organizational communication begins to rise and lines stay open because no one should feel like the individuals they work with do not care. The second subcomponent is developing and maintaining the highest leaders’ idea of how his organization should work.

In other words it “is the idea that when you walk into any organization, you are entering a place that has a set of shared understandings, and they will be different depending on whether you are walking through the front door at Hewlett-Packard or the front door at Southwest Airlines. ” (Kreps, 2011) These shared understandings make up the culture of the work place which has become the norms of the group. In our group the Quality department, it is understood by all that safety and following procedures are always followed by the individuals we evaluate on a day to day basis.

It is also a norm that when one of us is out of office we all share the responsibility to make sure their area is covered. According to Kreps (2011), “Organizational culture defines the identity of the organization to both members and nonmembers, cues members of the culture about how they should represent the organization, and helps members make sense of their role in the organization and the larger role of the organization within society. ” In simple terms it is seeing the big picture as a whole whether than as individuals so goals get accomplished.

The third is conflict resolution; we as individuals are all wired different, come from different backgrounds and live our lives the way we seem fit. “Conflict management skills are therefore an essential part of strategic interpersonal communication. Effective interpersonal conflict management involves mediating these differences and disagreements between individuals to develop solutions to problems. ” (Kreps, 2011) Since there are so many difference from one person to another problems will arise but if effective managed can become no problem at all.

When problems do arise there is ways to deal with them properly. According to Kreps (2011), “A first step toward effective interpersonal conflict management is to focus on the other person’s point of view. ” This takes place when you are the one with the issue and instead of sticking to your guns you start to try to understand the other person by being an active listener. Of course, if you are not willing to hear their points of view then “find a kindred spirit in the chain of command, and you can reduce the most gigantic and daunting bureaucracies down to your size.

” (McCormack, 1996) They can listen to both the other person and you, and then hopefully explain to each of you what the problem truly is at hand. After that, all parties involved can work together to reach an agreement or the third party can develop one on their own to present. It all comes down to being “effective conflict communicators avoid the hostility trap and stay focused on the issues at hand. ” (Kreps, 2011) The fourth subcomponent deals with Leadership Strategies. According to Kreps (2011), “Modern organizations depend on effective leadership to provide organizational members with instructions about how to accomplish tasks.

” In the chain of command this starts at the top and works its way to the bottom. In the case on our Quality department it goes from Vice President to Director, Director to 2nd level Manager then to our direct Manager and finally to us. Per Kreps (2011), “These roles are located at the top of organizational hierarchies, directing the activities of those listed below them on an organizational chart that specifies the formal positions held by organization members. ” Through these action only what is needed is passed to the next since each level will have their own part is completing the task.

Basically it prevents information overload at the lowest levels of the chain. In the overall picture of leadership strategies the higher levels just need to remember sometime less is more because of what can been seen by the lower levels. “Formal organizational leadership roles, such as the positions occupied by company CEOs, presidents, vice presidents, managers, and supervisors, are among the most visible and important roles performed by organizational participants. ” (Kreps, 2011) In simple terms as a member of the lowest level I do not need to know your part of the task because I will see it through your action.

The fifth and final subcomponent of the chain of command is formal and informal communication. These two types of communication along with the other four subcomponents tie everything together completing the theory behind the chain of command. “Formal communication travels both vertically (downward and upward) and horizontally. ” (Kreps, 2011) According to Kreps (2011), “The most common formal organizational communication pattern is downward communication. Downward communication takes place when organizational leaders communicate down the power hierarchy to subordinate organizational members.

” This type of communication can deal with tasks to be completed to accomplish organizational goals or communicate changes in policies. Than as for upward communication it “enables workers to express their concerns and ideas, to provide and ask for feedback, and to seek clarification from their managers. ” (Kreps, 2011) For example, I was just assigned a task to investigate a problem with one of our aircraft. After gathering all the data I was able to go to my manager for help on how to organize it properly and to make sure I was not missing anything that could be called into question.

He reviewed and explained the proper format which in turned helped himself in the long run since he had to send further up the chain. Lastly, “horizontal communication refers to messages that are shared between organization members who are on similar levels. ” (Kreps, 2011) This can be management styles between managers, policies established by V. P. ’s passed along to another or even techniques between workers. This type of communication can help one organization strengthen another in the company improving the overall strength within.

As for informal communication it “has been described as the social glue of the workplace ([37] Holmes and Marra, 2004), but few empirical studies on what constitutes such communication have been conducted within organizations, and even fewer in the remote context. ” (Fay, 2011) In my opinion this is the communication that takes place during lunches, after meeting or in the parking lot after work. It’s allows us as humans to become personal with others and let them see you we are as individuals outside of the work place.

According to Fay (2011), “Whether employees are proximal or distributed, they need informal communication to meet particular personal, social, and work needs. ” In my opinion it helps strength organizational stability by let people into parts of our lives the may not see at work. In cases where we could be dealing with trouble at home or at work other may be able to help or even advice on where to get help. In good times and hard times one should never have to face it alone because others do care and are there when we need them most.

“Considered together, these themes suggest that informal communication between peers is used in a rich variety of ways to achieve multiple goals on the individual and organizational levels. ” (Fay, 2011) This has played a large role in my life since there was a time when I was sick and unable to work. My coworkers stepped up to cover my responsibilities and also help care for me when I was unable to do it myself. We meet our mission and I got well so I could return to lessen the load on them. It was a win, win situation for all of us and a learning one at that too.

When these subcomponents are used correctly and the chain is followed it gains strength while creating stability within a group. Even if at times the chain is broken all a manager needs to do is address the break with the individual and reinforce the importance of following the chain. Then when that person falls back into the norms the chain is once again connected. In the end if everyone understands that “when employees frequently ignore the chain of command, it may affect the morale of supervisors and managers.

Companies without a clear chain of command can create an atmosphere of uncertainty and chaos, which affects the morale of all workers in the organization. Poor company morale may lead to high employee turnover and lower productivity. ” (Kelchner, 2013) With that said I for one enjoy and respect my coworkers and would like to stay in my current position for years to come so I plan on making sure my coworkers stay focused on the big picture through morale support and never breaking the chain.

References Fay, M. J. (2011). Informal communication of co-workers: A thematic analysis of messages. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, 6(3), 212-229. http://dx. doi. org/10. 1108/17465641111188394 Hear, hear: Hone the skill of active listening. (2012, Aug 18). Waikato Times. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/1033758287? accountid=32521 Kreps, G. L. (2011). Communication in organizations. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc. Kelchner, L.

(2013). The importance of following the chain of command in business. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness. chron. com/importance-following-chain-command-business-23560. html McCormack, M. (1996, Dec 23). A human being can be found in chain of command. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/260485706? accountid=32521 WebFinance, Inc. (2013). Chain of command. Retrieved from http://www. businessdictionary. com/definition/chain-of-command. html

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