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Dotted Line Relationships Are Everywhere – Get Good at Them! Expand / Collapse
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 9:48 AM


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I also live in the dotted relationship world.

There is a difference in the modern office between line authority and technical authority. Line authority is where an office establishes and supports a direct line of responsibility and authority. Technical authority is where people in an organization realize that if they want to get good quality IT work done which will last and integrate with their current data and systems they must build some sort of working relationship with the technicians. Since people working at these levels do not have the authority to establish direct lines of authority, they establish dotted lines which the success of a company requires if they are to be successful.

The people who often establish these dotted line relationships are the problem solvers who are not managers. However, managers who are experienced in IT and true service related efforts, will often institute dotted line relationships as well. They know the value of these "working relationships" where "real work" is done.

Enough of a rant.

Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!
Post #1176501
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 9:49 AM


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Last Login: 2 days ago @ 10:02 AM
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There are very very few solid lines in my company, and from what I can see that is increasingly the case with most organizations. The rigid, hierarchical command and control organization was the norm in my father's day, but it is increasingly an anachronism now. I see how much the working world has changed when I try and explain to him (he is 82) 'who' my boss is, 'where I fit' in the organization (he's trying to figure out for himself if I've been a success in my career or not ). From what I can see it is one of the effects of the workplace becoming more diverse. I'm happy to see it.

Post #1176503
Posted Friday, September 16, 2011 7:13 PM
Right there with Babe

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I prefer dotted lines, so long as the people at the end of them realize they don't have all the information about corporate needs - and neither do I. We make the best decisions we can based on the combined information we have, and when in doubt we search out additional information from our managers or others. The better our information, the fewer the restrictions, the more productive we are and the better the outcome.

The best projects I've worked on were the ones where every member took responsibility for their "piece of the party", and stepped in to help as their schedule allowed when another team member needed help.

The worst projects I've worked on were the ones where everyone waited for a manger to tell them what to do next. Always late, over budget, over estimate, over cost.

Communication is key, but don't wait for it to come to you - go out and get you some!

Here there be dragons...,

Steph Brown
Post #1176738
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 11:20 AM

SSCrazy Eights

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Last Login: Today @ 9:19 AM
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Personally I like dotted lines. It's more than 40 years since last I had a job where there weren't any, and I suspect that most people work with more dotted lines than solid ones.

A very long time ago I had formal management training in what was called "matrix management" - that was the management structure of an organisation where many of the dotted lines were formally recognised and institutionalised (but they certainly were not solid lines) - and that made it easier for me to understand that I must go outside the line management structure for advice/assistance/guidance and not always rely on my line manager, and that the same applied to people reporting to me - they needed the freedom to get guidance from other senior people; and equally I needed to provide advice and guidance to people not working for me. I would hate to go back to work in a strictly hierarchical system now.

I've had line management jobs, non-line roles where I've had a very small team to assist me in helping the line managers, and non-line roles where I've had no direct reports; often in the non-line roles my line manager hasn't had a clue what I'm doing but could see the results (if a non-line senior manager in some unit is always calling people to come and see him there's something wrong; if he's overwhelmed by the number of people coming to see him or telling their managers to get his views before taking a decision h'e probably doing a good job; but the bottom line is "is the unit for which he provides that function successful").

I've see the dotted lines go wrong - where people somewhere in the matrix didn't fully understand their roles and responsabilities. Only twice in my career have I seen this happen (once when a senior line manager wanted to direct his staff and not let thenm talk to thos nasty matrix people; and once where a senior developer thought he could carry on building castles in the air instead of putting something concrete together because he wasn't being pressured enough, while senior line managers were fighting to have a traditional system with no dotted lines, only - at most - occassional short term secondments of their staff to other projects with the secondment terminable at their absolute discretion. Both times it ended up in disaster. I've seen dotted lines work extremely well dozens of times.

Post #1176853
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