The management principle of adhering to the chain of command states that an employee should have only one superior. If an employee answers to more than one superior the result is disorder and ineffectiveness. In any organization people must deal effectively with three different relationships – superiors, peers and subordinates. If the lines of organizational responsibility are clearly defined and adhered to then the company will function effectively. If definition is lacking or not abided by then dysfunction will result.
When relationships are clearly defined effective interaction occurs. People know how to get things done and who to go to for things. If authority and responsibility are assigned and accepted correctly work will flow through the organization in an efficient manner. And if responsibilities are clear accountability will supported. On the other hand, if relationships are loosely defined or not enforced the organization will run poorly and it will be difficult if not impossible to enforce accountability.
When relationships are clearly defined and adhered to decisions can be made quickly and effectively by the right people. A coordinated effort at accomplishing organizational objectives will be possible and greater efficiencies can be achieved. Conversely if relationships are not defined or abided by the company operations will be sluggish and ineffective. Productivity will be sacrificed as unnecessary activities will be engaged in.
If relationships are clearly defined but not adhered to the organizational structure is weakened and thereby the company becomes less effective. Anytime someone bypasses a superior or subordinate and deals with someone more than one level away the chain of command is short circuited. If this happens regularly either the organizational structure needs to be modified or corrective action is necessary. Adhering to the chain of command supports success and if practiced by all members of the organization everyone will benefit.