is drawn upwards, but problems are pushed downwards. Anonymous
reporting structure defines how power and control is cascaded throughout the
organization and is usually represented in a chart, showing how the lines of control
reach the various functional areas and physical locations.
Tall or flat: Organizations
may be like tall pyramids in which there are many levels with a person at each
level controlling as few as three people, while flatter organizations will have
fewer levels, but with as many as 30 people reporting to one person. Too narrow a
span leads to over-supervision and dampens initiative, while too wide
a span leads to a lack of control and subordinates working in
a misguided way or making errors that go unnoticed. The number of levels can be
Transco (the distribution arm of British Gas) reduced its management
levels from 13 to 6 while still employing a staff of 16,000.
reporting lines: In
some cases, such as a hospital, there may be two parallel lines of
responsibility - professional and administrative. This often leads to conflicts,
for example, a clinical decision to treat a patient with an expensive drug may
conflict with the management's wish to control spending. 'Dotted line' reporting
occurs when a person reports to one manager but also has responsibilities to
another. This can lead to problems, for instance, where a person reports to a
location manager for salary and conditions, but has a 'dotted line'
responsibility to another manager for professional work. Each manager may have
different objectives or conflicting management styles with, for example, one
encouraging personal life outside the organization and the other demanding total
commitment to work.
uniformed services operate a tight and rigid reporting structure, while the
professions are more relaxed and allow scope for individual style and decision.
Indeed, in some professional partnerships, particularly within the law and
medicine, it is not clear who reports to whom, or whether there is any reporting
structure at all! The reporting structure should allow a two-way process, with
feedback being passed back up the line. Those managers who communicate with
their staff solely in 'orchestra style' via large monthly meetings, video
broadcasts or newsletters, run the risk of becoming too distant, vague or
general in what they say and getting out of touch with those for whom they are