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How to Strike a Balance Between Hierarchy and Creativity

Do you like clear expectations and a known chain of command, or do you prefer a more free environment at work? While hierarchy can seem to stifle creativity, we cannot simply throw all order out the window. At the same time, we don't want to miss out on the creativity of workers. Ideally, there's a way to benefit from both.

balance

(Photo Credit: katscool/Flickr)

Chain of Command

We may think of an efficient workplace as having a clear hierarchy and chain of command. Decisions get made by the people at the top, then those managers and executives delegate to workers lower on the hierarchy. In this type of organization, people know the boundaries and expectations of their jobs, and often workers aspire to climb higher on the chain of command. Those who get to make decisions and give orders have "made it."

This type of organizational flow may be great for effieciency and productivity when you are making widgets, or when your company is alrerady successfully distributing it's product or service. But what about when that widget needs to be improved?

Hierarchy Stifles Creativity

Psychology Today discusses why hierarchy stifles creativity, and what can be done about it. When a strict hierarchy is adhered to in a company culture, creative ideas only get shared and implemented when they come from the top. Those lower on the ladder are most likely to do as they are told.

Companies with a well-established hierarchy miss out on the creativity of the workers. But it's the workers who may best understand innovation and the applicability of creative ideas.

Far from simply turning the company culture into complete anarchy, middle managers may actually encourage workers to share ideas by having team meetings or deliberately making themselves available and approachable.

If you are a worker with a good idea, don't be silent. Find an appropriate time to discuss your thoughts with your supervisors. Make sure you explain how and why your idea will help the company; if they don't see it, your idea will die. If you can show them why your idea is a good one, make sure to say you want credit when it gets implemented. Don't let the hierarchy in your company stifle your own good ideas, communicate and use them as leverage to climb up your company ladder.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you prefer an atmosphere with more hierarchy or creativity? Why? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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