This is a quote from the recent Robocop reboot (a film which DID NOT need a reboot…) in which a boss explains a situation to a worker, and it made me think about the distance between different levels within a company.
This distance covers a few things – and it depends on the line of work you’re in. In my role as a remote worker, it’s primarily a geographical distance, which of course brings it’s own set of challenges. For others, it can be different types of distance – technological knowledge, design theory, client management styles and social demographic to name a few.
We all know from our Maths classes at school that:
Distance = Speed X Time
What’s interesting about this formula, is that it’s also applicable to this business world.
The distance between levels within a company, primarily between a boss and a member of the workforce he/she manages, can be changed through the speed at which projects are undertaken and the time it takes for them to be completed. The mathematical formula shows that a greater distance is derived from a longer journey and the speed at which it’s taken. In a business sense, it’s the same – a greater professional distance comes from a more packed work schedule and the fact that this slows down productivity.
Bridging the gap
As someone who has had a lot of different bosses, I’ve seen various methods used to tackle the gap between these levels, both good and bad.
In order to be a run a faster, leaner organisation, a boss can do a number of things to help keep this gap as small as possible:
- Keep up with social commitments in your workforce – face time with your employees will help you not to be seen as the King in the palace of management.
- Sit down with your employees every few months to find out their struggles and strengths, both professionally and personal if possible.
- Start to remove layers within your organisation. If a workforce is feeling alienated, removing barriers between these levels is always a great start.
- Trust your workforce to do what they do. They’ve trained in their skill and know it very well, so don’t feel that you have to know every detail about every part of their job. Just know they can get work done without you having to crack the whip.
- Encourage more social activity within the workplace.
- Learn from your employees – knowledge is power and if you can know even a small amount about what each employee does within a company, this will help to reduce the speed and time it would take to explain a certain topic or even remove the need for this altogether.
For an employee, there are also some things you can do to help out in this situation:
- Feed snippets of knowledge to your superiors. This shows that you know what you are doing and that a boss is learning from your existing knowledge.
- Throw out the idea that it’s “them and us”. We all work to achieve the same goals, so having this mentality will help you to understand why certain managerial decisions are made, and also when to speak up when you feel the need to.
- Suggest daily stand up sessions, if you don’t make use of them already. If everyone is aware of what’s happening in your department or organisation, communication is better and your daily work life will be better as a result.
We all know about maintaining a good work/life balance – but I do think it’s also important to have a good work/work balance also. One part is the work you do on a daily basis, actually getting things done. The other is the the work you do to make sure the previous work goes as planned.
A unified, knowledgable team is far more effective in the long term, even if it requires a bit more effort on everyone’s part.