The Inverse Pyramid Is Killing Employee Engagement


“Look Johnny, the CEO is at the very bottom of the pyramid – serving the average workers at the top. How thoughtful.”

Said no corporate worker in their sane mind.

Almost everyday, corporate workers are subjected to copious heaps of internal communication dogma. And the infamous inverted pyramid is by far the most offensive and ridiculous of them all. The inverted pyramid implies that the few top leaders of the corporation prioritize the needs of the workers above their own. And like unicorns and Sasquatch, that notion is so far from the reality that is obvious to every corporate worker with just half of a brain.

Here’s the deal…
The reality for most corporate organizations is that the workers (who are actually at the bottom of the organizational pyramid) cater to the needs of the very few top leaders. I can attest to the fact that, as a young mid-level manager working at a place that had the traditional pyramid organizational structure, the general rule of thumb was simple – the big bosses got what they wanted when they wanted it, period. I distinctly remember every request that came “from on high” received the white-glove treatment. Workers would immediately stop whatever they were doing, regardless of importance, and take care of the request from the senior leader. Trust me, you do not know the true definition of CYA until you have witnessed your managers scramble to ensure they are not in the cross-hairs of the big bosses. Like rats running to the deck level of a sinking ship…

What I have just described sounds like the exact opposite of the CEO’s cherished, self-deprecatory, inverse pyramid illustration (or shall I say, inverse pyramid illusion).

I wonder–did the top leaders wax romantically about the efficacy of their beloved inverse pyramid?

Did the senior leadership team drink their own Kool-Aid and think that employees would buy into their banal attempts to appear as one of the regular guys?

Be honest…
Let’s face the facts–CEOs are so removed from the average worker that it is laughable to think otherwise. How “removed” you ask? Well as of 2013, CEOs make 273 times more than the average worker. Million dollar salaries, million dollar bonuses, personal security detail, personal drivers, private jet privileges, reserved parking, personal chefs and housing allowances make up just a few of the many perks these senior executives reap.

Seriously Steele, what’s your problem?
My issue with the inverse pyramid and other corporate internal communication falsifications is actually really simple–they make a mockery of the workers’ intelligence.

One last word to the senior executives…
Don’t tell workers that your number one mission is to serve their needs when in reality, workers spend their time busting their behinds to fulfill all of your requests.

And while you’re at it, don’t tell workers that your main priority is to serve them, and then in the same breath tell Wall Street that your main priority, above everything else, is to take care of shareholders. How can you serve two masters?

And don’t tell your workers that titles are not important, yet you and your senior team have reserved parking and private elevators. You think workers don’t see that?

It’s really simple, either practice the things your internal communications convey or simply put an end to hypocritical, absurd communication efforts. Everyone knows that they work in an environment that closely resembles a monarchy and not the democracy that you strive to convey.

Your workers are your number one asset–don’t make a mockery of them.

Your workers live in reality.

Just in case you forgot, they’re not sheep that simply go along with every shenanigan placed in front of them.

Practice what you preach… or just stop living in your fantasy world and flip the inverted organizational pyramid back on its natural side.


A Champion’s Cause:

“No one sat me down and taught me this stuff. I had to learn it all on my own by bumping my head and watching others do the same…so I freely give away all that I know to help others just like me.”

- Steele A. Champion

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4 comments on “The Inverse Pyramid Is Killing Employee Engagement

  1. Tessa Fair says:

    This is the truth. I work at a mid-sized company and the leaders always try to make themselves out to be normal when everyone knows they aren’t. They have the best parking spaces, get catered lunch daily and a ton of vacation time…hypocrites I tell you.

    • Steele A. Champion says:

      Tessa, welcome back and thanks for your comment. “Hypocrite” is a such strong word nowadays but my TLTB crew doesn’t pull any punches and neither will I — so as they say “If the shoe fits…

      Thanks again, keep your head-up, keep making magic where you can. — Steele

  2. james says:

    I don’t care that the top dogs make more than everyone else but I do care that they 1. keep the company profitable so that we have jobs 2. if they fail #1, they shouldn’t be paid huge bonuses like they often do when they suck. When we fail, we get no bonus, when we get fired due to performance we get no “golden parachute.” That is what makes them seem like hypocrites and kilsl employee engagement instantly. Unfortunately, that’s how things are in today’s working environment.

    • Steele A. Champion says:

      James, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Great points! To comment on the compensation of the top leaders of today’s large corporations, particularly CEOs, i agree in that it’s fine to make a lot of cheddar when times are great (maybe not 273X more) but why do these folks get paid handsomely even when their organization is suffering and/or they get fired for poor performance? I understand and agree with the concept of severance but to get paid lottery jackpot amounts is a excessive in my opinion. Thanks for stopping and consider subscribing to our newsletter. – Steele

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