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Layers or Delayering

Layers refers to the total number of "job levels" in an organization (ie. junior, senior, manager, senior manager, VP, SVP, etc.). Layers are created to justify pay increases and often describe "span of control" and level of authority.

Historically job levels or layers were created to separate "workers" from "management." Today, as more and more employees are value-creators, these levels have less value, other than to signal a title. If someone wants a "manager" title, the company often wants them to operate at a higher level.

Delayering is where companies reduce layers, essentially trying to remove middle management and increase productivity. In the Bersin research we advise not to tie compensation to level strictly: this creates a situation where every employee always asks for a promotion to make more money.

Today companies are delayering rapidly. Many companies built up dozens of layers over time by giving high-value employees job titles and levels as a form of reward. This results in organizational paralysis as employees refuse to take new roles without a new level.

Many of our larger clients have gone from 40-50 layers to only 6-10 to reduce this problem.

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