The Effects of a Tall Organizational Structure

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The Effects of a Tall Organizational Structure
Tall organisations feature several layers of managers. (top manager with cellphone image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com)

Tall organizational structures, or those in which low-level employees lie at the bottom of a long line of executives and managers, can turn out high-quality products carefully crafted through a host of rules and mechanised management. However, despite the production benefits of a tall organisation, this type of organizational structure carries a number of drawbacks that range from poor communication to high expenses.

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Rigid Rules

In a tall organizational structure, employees often lie at the bottom of a long chain of supervisors, managers and executives. Because each level of the company hierarchy comes with its own rules, regulations and procedures, employees near the bottom of the organisation might face a large number of rules. To add to the restrictive nature of these organisations, according to an analysis of organizational structures performed by the All Business website, employees might observe that managers strictly enforce the numerous rules.

Lower Employee Satisfaction

As workers in a tall organisation find themselves subject to an increasing number of rigidly enforced rules, employee satisfaction can plummet. This decline in employee morale can further accelerate in very tall organisations, as employees and even managers feel distanced from decision makers higher in the organisation. This distance can leave employees and lower-level managers without a clear understanding of the rules or the purposes behind the regulations, and this lack of understanding helps further aggravate already frustrated employees. Tall organisations, according to an analysis performed by All Business, also tend to separate employee functions, placing distance between employees and creating an "us versus them" attitude that further deteriorates employee satisfaction.

Communication Breakdowns

In tall organisations, according to the online book "Principles of Management," managers tend to discourage employees from communicating directly with workers in other, parallel workgroups. Instead, communication from one workgroup typically flows upward through a chain of managers until executives hand off the communication to upper-level managers in the other workgroup. This communication distance can pose a host of problems that range from delays in receiving important information to a complete misunderstanding of the subject communication. Just as tall organisations inhibit communication between employees, managers also can experience similar frustrations. Managers limited to communicating only with direct reports and immediate supervisors can, according to "Principles of Management," experience difficulty obtaining critical information from other workgroups.

Higher Expenses

Tall organisations, according to "Principles of Management," typically have numerous layers of supervisors, managers, upper managers and executives. Because these organisations tend to have a large number of management-level employees, and because managers generally command higher salaries than lower-level employees, tall organisations can carry high price tags.

Hands-On Management

According to "Principles of Management," tall organisations tend to restrict a supervisor's span of control. Because the supervisor has a smaller workgroup, he can spend more time reviewing individual employee performance and coaching employees to improve productivity. This combination of a hands-on approach to management and personalised reviews also can help prepare employees for promotion into the organisation's management levels.

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