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. The argument is made 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 pe
rhaps 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 may 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? Or, would the tendency be to keep certain things between you and the employee? Trust is important 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.  This will create multiple conflicts within the system.  
  • Email fatigue - Every supervisor will receive email notification on every entry made...or updated.
  • Home page - All new and updated entries will appear in the recent activity folder for every supervisor.  Information on direct subordinates will be lost in the clutter.
  • Downline queries - This query and report will become useless because everyone reports to everyone.
  • Incident totals report - Same as downline queries and reports.
  • Document flow - Such a hierarchy will create confusion in the approval process.  This will inevitably result is an entry being distributed to an employee before anyone has a chance to discuss the matter with the employee.
  • 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.