Top vs. Bottom

Are workers at the bottom or the middle in an organization more intuned with what’s going on? Or are the top execs?

Based on observations at my current and previous workplaces, I would have to vote for the people at the bottom/middle. It seems those employees on the hierarchial ladder have a better idea of what’s going on. For example, at my current job, I am considered to be a worker bee. There’s quite a few of us worker bees around here collaborating, interacting, socializing, and accomplishing our daily tasks. Since we work together, we’re usually aware of each other’s situation and the general atmosphere.

So recently, when the moral of the group start to flopping, us worker bees know immediately. We know what to expect, who wants out, and other minute changes. You’d figure the people at the top would know this as well? Not true. They were completely surprised by what’s happening.

This situation is similar to a focal point of Web 2.0 where the combined opinions and wisdom of the general population is more influential than any single source of expertise. (e.g. Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica, Digg.com vs. New York Times Online, Wiki’s vs. FAQs) A good read is to pick up a copy of Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.

Bottom Line

If you’re a manager, be friends with and stay close to the worker bees. Ask for suggestions and take them serisously. Since worker bees make up most of your workgroup and their combined opinions have much more say than whatever you have to dish out.

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