How to build Relationships in Organization

How to build Relationships in Organization

We are taking up another phase of the management function of organizing. We are going to be discussing organizational relationships which are stable in every organization. We are specifically going to look at line relationship, staff relationship and functional authority. These relationships are important because they contribute significantly to the attainment of the objectives ofthe organization.

In looking at these relationships, we are going to do it from the point of the need for managers, to exercise control over and above his subordinates. Responsibility has been given to him with the necessary authority. That authority has to be exercised. We are also going to look at the relationships in terms of some managers giving advance to other managers so as to enable them perform their jobs more effectively.

Important clarification

Confusion sometimes follow the terms line and staff departments, and consequently the forms of relationships we are about to discuss. The confusion arises because some departments are classified as line departments. That is those departments that are directly in charge of production. The production department and marketing departments are quickly singled out. In some cases the accounting department is added. In other cases it is excluded. If such organization has purchasing department, it is treated as staff. Of course personal department is regarded as staff. The overriding criterion for judging a department as being staff is that it is not involved directly in the production process. But all the confusion can disappear if we regard line relationship as authority relationship and staff being simply advisory in nature. If this is understood, you are well to understand better the concepts. And it is on this basis we are going to discuss the relationships.

Line Relationship

This implies the authority to take action and make decisions. We have stressed the fact that a manager should not be given responsibility without the commensurate authority. This is ridiculous. Being given authority without the corresponding responsibility is dangerous. Therefore to avoid these two extremes authority must be matched with corresponding responsibility and vice versa. But the authority of the manager is to enable him to take decisions necessary for the attainment of the defined objectives of the organization. He must possess the authority to use the organizations resources, direct the subordinates under him and carry out those necessary things that are required, all for the interest of the organization. The line indicating the relationship in an organization chart is usually a straight one that is not broken. It shows that line authority is exercise at each level from the managing director to the last person down the organization line. This is why; the line relationship is seen as the flow or exercise of authority from the top to the bottom.

To exercise those organizational members under a manager positively to the realization of the set objectives.

Advantages of line relationships

(a) One major advantage of line relationship is the clarity it gives to the manager. He appreciates his position, the role created in that position and how he intends to achieve such roles through the exercise of the authority entrenched in the position.

(b) It makes the manager to know who the subordinates are that will report directly to him. If he is to exercise authority by informing individuals, it stands to reason that he should know those individuals that will be answerable to him.

(c) It creates confidence in the mind of the manager. This is because his position in the organization is not an empty one, he has the authority. And the authority is backed up by the organization. Consequently, when he is directing the subordinates as well as providing the desired leadership, he does all these things because he has the authority backing him. This type of authority is also called power, that is legitimate or position power. We shall be discussing this concept in another future unit.

(d) Line authority also enables the subordinates to appreciate and recognize their boss. They know that they must report to a manager whom they depend on for a variety of things. They get assignments from the manager, and specific ways the job has to be performed are clear by communicated to them.

(e) Line relationship makes the subordinates to respect the directives of their boss since they know that he has the backup of the organization and can give out the necessary punishment on the event of non-compliance to the directors.

Staff Relationship

This means the provision of special services to the line managers. This enables the line manager to achieve the best result on organization wide basis. This is done by the staff managers who studies on existing problems. Through careful analyses after thorough investigation, a considered opinion by way of professional advice is offered to the line manager. Let us repeat again, the staff manager does not exercise authority over the line manager. Question of exercise of authority along this point should be completely erased. All that the staff manager does not research study and investigate the problem. Therefore, an advice is offered.

However the staff manager is a boss in his own right in his own department. He has subordinates that de report to him from time to time. Consequently, even though the staff manager does not exercise authority over and above the subordinates that do that do report to him. In other words, the flow of authority does exist in a staff department as well with the attendant advantages, some of which we have discussed. Let us also point out that in an organization chart, the staff relationship is usually represented by a line that is broken, that is, dotted line.

Advantages of Staff Relationship

a) Though the professional advice that the staff manager provides from time to time manager make the work of the line manager to be easier. He can concentrate on the main aspects of his job while the staff manager comes out his investigation and analysis of a problem with a view to advising the line manager correctly.

b) Rising from “a” above, there is improvement on the quality of the work of the line manager in two ways. He has more time to concentrate on his job and secondary, the advice from the staff manager provides the best option

c) Through the clarification of issues which the staff manager makes from time to time further illuminates the situation surrounding line manager’s environment. In such circumstance, he can take the best decision in the overall interest of the organization.

d) Staff manger may recommend necessary desirable changes in line with the changes in the external environment of the organization, which in turn make the organization to adjust positively and hence be able to compete favorably with their competitors. See the diagram below showing line and staff relationship as purely authority flow.


Showing Line & Staff Authority Relationship

Showing Line & Staff Authority Relationship.

In the above organization chart which is that of a manufacturing organization, the activities of the personnel department, assistant to the general manager and the budget department are purely advisory to the main stream of the operations. As a result, they are called staff departments’. The finance, production and marketing departments have activities that are generally related to the main corporate functions. To that extent they are known as line department.

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