Conquering the Fear of Employee Hierarchy

Conquering the Fear of Employee Hierarchy

Employee hierarchy in the workplace definitely has its benefits, but it can also be a bit difficult to navigate. Oftentimes, people let their fear of an unknown structure overwhelm them. Becoming familiar with how a hierarchy works and how it can help employees become more successful can make all the difference. 


Whether you are entering the workforce for the first time or starting a new position at a company with a more formal structure, here’s what you need to know about employee hierarchy so you can find success at work.

What Is an Employee Hierarchy?

Think of an employee hierarchy in terms of a pyramid. Entry-level employees make up the pyramid’s base, with the highest level of responsibility at the top. Here’s an example of how a corporation might structure its hierarchy, going from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.


  • CEO (Chief Executive Officer)
  • Senior heads of departments
  • Managers
  • Supervisors
  • Employees
  • Freelancers or independent contractors

Like with most things, there are both pros and cons to a hierarchy system. Let’s examine a few of each.

Pros

  • Organization
  • Accountability
  • Professional goal setting

Nobody feels safe inside of chaos. Having an organized structure helps every person within the company know exactly where to go when they have questions or problems. Without a hierarchy, it would be nearly impossible to know who to go to when issues need to be escalated.


When things go south, it’s often the head of the company that gets let go. This is because their role is to ensure that things are running smoothly. If a company loses money or has a PR disaster, there’s accountability in replacing the head of a team or the head of the entire company.


Getting a promotion is an incredible feeling. Without a hierarchy, there isn't a chance for a promotion. There’s no upper role to aspire to. The pyramid structure allows everyone within the company to aim higher if that’s what they’d like to do.

Cons

  • Employees might not feel as valued as their managers.
  • Placing one position above another can seem unfair.
  • Department rivalries can occur.

It’s important for everyone who gives their time to a company to feel valued. Giving the perception that one position is more important than another can cause an employee to feel undervalued.


Look at what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the cashiers, delivery drivers, etc., who became indispensable in our time of need. Seeing this on display in such a massive way changed many people’s minds about what jobs are more important than others. 


Another issue is that departments can become islands unto themselves. It can create competition within the company that results in each department setting goals independent from the company’s overall goals. Having inner turmoil of any kind can have devastating consequences.

The Takeaway? There’s No Need for Fear!

At the end of the day, there’s no need to fear an employee hierarchy. The pros of having such a structure in place can often outweigh the cons by creating a stable place to work and grow. Knowing who to turn to with both struggles and triumphs can offer a safety net. Nobody is standing alone.

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