We are all familiar with top-down management – a clear chain of command where decisions are made at the top and relayed down to the lowermost organisational rung. This is how many business owners traditionally manage their companies. However, did you know that, as a manager, you can actually do the opposite and get results?
Upside-down management has been a long held policy at UK service retailer Timpson; what exactly is it, though, and how can companies benefit from it? We’ll take a good look here.
Upside-down management: a brief overview
We have implied earlier that upside-down management is the antithesis of traditional top-down leadership schemes. Essentially, companies under this type of management are typically run from the bottom up.
That, however, does not necessarily mean that key decisions are made from the grassroots. Rather, the leadership remains on top of the decision-making process, and the employees are provided with the guidance, training and resources needed to achieve the necessary tasks on their own.
Employees are free to work in whatever they feel helps them best accomplish their tasks, and their needs influence the day-to-day decisions of the upper management. That said, their managers’ role is to provide them with all the support necessary for them to be effective at work. They are not to give orders or micromanage their employees, and the same goes all the way up the organisation.
What problems does upside-down management solve?
Upside-down management solves some key issues that riddle many modern companies.
- Inflexibility when dealing with customers
Many managers and business owners simply see their customers as duplicates of their ideal buyer persona. They have certain protocols in place when dealing with expected customer behaviour but may need to step in when customer unpredictability kicks in. This results in slow turnaround times – something that’s addressed by providing your employees with the necessary training, guidance and tools to handle the situation on their own.
- Underutilised talent
Workers can achieve their full potential if they are allowed to think outside the box and apply their unique skills at work. An upside-down management scheme simply allows employee talent to shine, allowing them to be at their best while making sure that the organisation makes the most of them.
There are many pitfalls to keeping a close eye on and strictly enforcing stringent rules on your workforce. For one, it makes your employees feel that you’re breathing down their necks. It also keeps you away from more important managerial or leadership duties, such as making strategic decisions that steer your organisation toward a clear goal. A bottom-up management style practically takes micromanagement out of the equation, allowing workers to work as they see fit and make the most contribution to the company while letting managers and leaders focus on the more strategic aspects of the business.
Maybe it’s time to manage your company from the bottom up
Upside-down management may not work for all organisations, especially those that can only survive by sticking to hard rules and rigid command chains. For the most part, though, there is nothing to lose when you hand more control to your employees. Doing so empowers both managers and their workers, helping them contribute their best to their company.