If you’ve read previous blogs you know that I consider staff to be our most important asset. In my long career I’ve worked with close to a thousand different employees. I worked with some of them several times, because as I made career changes, I took them with me and they wanted to come. It’s not because I paid them better (although I do think it’s important for your staff to be well compensated) but it’s because they knew how much I valued them and I treated them accordingly.
The typical organization chart for a business looks something like this, in a very simplified manner:
The support staff report to managers, managers report to owners, and so goes the hierarchy. Generally, the largest number of people are at the bottom and they are doing what some may believe is less important work. In most cases, although certainly not all, the people at the top of the chart are more experienced, or better educated. For the most part though, the people at the bottom are doing the bulk of the work.
I have a lot of experience in healthcare and have worked with lots and lots of doctors. In the chart above, the doctors are definitely at the top. Without question they were the most highly educated of the organization’s members, and usually owned the practice. No doubt, patients could not be treated without the doctors. But I would argue that it doesn’t always work in reverse. Could the doctors take care of patients without their staff? This is not a commentary on physicians, but the staff were the ones who had the most contact with patients, assured patients got what they needed, and at the end of the day, made certain that doctors got paid. The truth is, the office would have been chaos if left to the doctors to run.
So what is our job as managers and owners? The answer is to support the support staff. Our responsibility is to lift them up, make them feel valued, give them the training the need, coach them if things are not going as you would like, be there to back them up if they need help, in short, flip the triangle!
Imagine how your staff would feel if you showed them this org chart instead of the typical one. They would see themselves literally on top. If you explain that the reason they are there is because they do such important work, and that you are there to support them, not the other way around, you will see their performance soar!
Smaller businesses like many of yours don’t have an organization chart and that’s fine. It’s not required to run a good company and sometimes formal org charts feel too “corporate” for me. The point is to lead your organization using the green chart as your guide.