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4 Of the Biggest Disadvantages of Top Down Management

Linking the human resource function with the strategic goals of the business is one of the biggest benefits of human resource management for your business.

A business could have hundreds of employees, but if the staff are not trained in such a way that their individual approach is aligned with that of the organisation, the business will surely suffer.

The way an organisation chooses to manage its employees will largely influence the growth and success of the business.

Generally speaking, there are two methods of management which can be used, known as either top-down or bottom-up management.

bottom up vs top down management - HR company Pretoria

Top-down management being the most traditional management style used.

What is top-down management?

Also known as autocratic leadership, this is the process of upper management making independent decisions that will change the systems within a workplace.

This is done without consulting lower levels of management and requires every staff member to adapt and adopt the changes made.

Although few businesses operate using strictly top-down management, many organisations use a slightly modified version.

This version allows each department to be managed by a leader who in effect, micromanages the rest of the employees in the department.

However, this type of management can be detrimental to a business.

4 major problems that exist with top-down management

Good ideas are overlooked

We won’t deny that the upper level manager knows the intricate details of the business and wants the business to succeed.

However, it’s impossible for one person to know everything. Any person who is employed has the potential to offer valuable input.

It’s important for any manager to remember that their employees are dealing directly with customers, suppliers and other market related entities.

Their ideas are important as they will be based on practical, day to day experience. Furthermore, different ideas bring an important element of diversity into the workplace.

By offering the opportunity for their voices to be heard, you allow your employees to feel part of the company, which in turn improves their morale and productivity.

In addition, top-down management places limitations on the level of preparation your staff have to be promoted when the opportunity arises.

Employee engagement deteriorates

Although there are some people who work simply to earn a salary, there are many employees who thrive on overcoming challenges in the workplace which in turn brings them a much-desired sense of accomplishment.

These are the employees that will begin to search for another job if they feel they are not being engaged enough. These are also the employees that any manager or business owner should work hard at retaining.

For these employees, simply being told what to do is not enough. They wish to figure out how and why they need to complete the task and potentially discover a more efficient way of doing so.

Without these challenges, you may end up with either a complacent employee, or no employee at all.

Finding a replacement is difficult

When all the planning and decision making is carried out by upper management and one of these managers resign, you are faced with the challenge of finding someone suitable to fill the position.

Although it is sometimes useful to hire externally, it’s often more advantageous to fill open positions internally. This can easily be done if current employees have been given the opportunity to properly prepare for the position.

Allowing an existing employee the opportunity to advance in their career will give them an even greater sense of accomplishment which will directly fuel their productivity, increasing their value tremendously.

Otherwise, apart from hiring someone from the outside, you’ll be forced to promote someone who has little to no management skills.

Micromanagement is not the best approach

In a top down management organisation, employees end up doing exactly what they are told to do, whether it makes practical sense or not.

This micromanagement can leave your employees feeling frustrated because they are not encouraged to use their initiative when carrying out their daily tasks.

Giving employees the flexibility of coming up with the most effective way to do something can result in a more successful business.

Many things seem to make theoretical sense, but when applied in a practical situation, the outcome can be very different and employees should have the freedom to make improvements wherever possible.

Can you go back from top down management?

The good news is that if your organisation is currently using top down management, it can be changed to a more inclusive management method.

It may come as a challenge in the beginning, and the changes should be made gradually. However, it will ultimately result in employee satisfaction and lowered stress levels for upper level managers.

Changes can include the implementation of a policy which allows employees to explore new ways of doing their job.

It must, however, remain clear that the priority is still to complete their daily tasks; the difference is just that they are now afforded the opportunity to find creative ways of doing so.

Also, when the organisation is facing a challenge, ask your employees for input. Then, use the most appropriate idea and implement it as the solution.

Should the idea fail, refrain from punishing the employee. Feel free to explain why it didn’t work but do not punish them.

Lastly, if your employees come to you with a problem, it’s good practice to brainstorm solutions and offer suggestions; however, ask them what they think will be a good resolution and allow them to make the ultimate decision.

This gives your employee a sense of empowerment and confidence and a confident employee will do their job with conviction as they propel your organisation towards success.

Ukomelela Human Resources Consulting Pretoria

Many problems faced within a workplace can arise from ineffective human resource management. However, these issues are easily repaired through healthy interaction between management and staff.

We offer our clients professional and effective human resource consulting in Pretoria. For more information about our HR solutions, contact us.


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