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What is the "unity of command" principle?

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Unity of command is a military principle that has been applied to business. It follows the idea that a subordinate should have only one person to whom they are directly responsible. In business, this means that no employee should ever have more than one boss.

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Modern corporations can be massive and often consist of many employees. With more employees and more managers, there is an increased risk of poor communication or conflicting directives. Under the unity of command principle, the company follows a hierarchy of leadership, often called chain of command. Lower ranking employees report to one direct supervisor. That supervisor then reports to his direct supervisor. The process continues throughout the company up to the chairman of the board of directors or the CEO. The unity of command principle further helps businesses determine responsibility for mistakes by minimizing the number of people from which a subordinate receives directions.

Simplifying the chain of command helps to eliminate confusion in the workplace. Businesses operating under this principle are effectively eliminating the risk of confusion among employees. This further increases the company's efficiency. With fewer communication issues with which to contend, employees may perform their work more easily. Questions are directed to one person, and responsibility for mistakes is more easily identified.

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