From time to time, we have clients who want to set up the hierarchy with all non-supervisory personnel reporting to every first line supervisor, every first line supervisor reporting to every up-line supervisor, and so on. They argue that each supervisor needs to know the background of an employee so they can address an issue effectively. 

The short answer to this question is yes, but it's something we don't recommend.  

Here are a few things to consider;  

Erosion of trust is perhaps the most significant downside of this type of arrangement. Look at this from the employee's perspective. Is it necessary for every supervisor in the organization to see all documentation on every down line employee? Each supervisor should take action to address issues that come to their attention.  However, taking action should not be confused with discipline.  It should be the responsibility of the employee's assigned chain of command to follow up on the issue and administer the appropriate discipline. This could include; training, coaching, counseling, etc.  Now, consider the perspective of the employee's first line supervisor.  Will you be more hesitant to document an incident knowing that every supervisor in the organization will see the entry? Alternatively, would the tendency be to keep certain things between you and the employee? Trust is essential regardless of which side of the desk you sit on.

By setting up the hierarchy in this manner, each down line employee will become a subordinate of every supervisor, creating multiple conflicts within the system.  

  • Email fatigue - Every supervisor will receive email notification on every entry created or updated.
  • Home page - All new and updated entries will appear in the recent activity folder for every supervisor.  Information on direct subordinates can get lost in the clutter.
  • Down-line queries - This query and report will become useless because everyone reports to everyone.
  • Incident totals report - Same as down-line queries and reports.
  • Document flow - Such a hierarchy will create confusion in the approval process, with the inevitable result being an entry distributed to an employee before a discussion takes place.  A negative entry should never get to an employee before a discussion takes place.
  • Intervention and Recognition - Flags will appear for every supervisor with no clear lines regarding the responsibility to review and respond.  

All in all, this type of hierarchy will reduce the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the system.  More importantly, you run the risk of reducing GT to a management tool as opposed to one of leadership.