The solution to this is to think of the three sections of organizations as three equally important teams that make up one larger team. As three equally important teams communication should not be a one-way stream (up or down), but a three way one (top to middle, middle to bottom, and bottom to top, and vice versa). The top-level should periodically hold meetings with the lower level, and the lower level should not be hindered by the barrier of middle management from communicating with the top-level if they so choose.
What will this accomplish? For one, it may promote a sense of worth among low-level employees that may make them come closer to reaching their full productive potential. The other major (potential) result of this is that low level workers and management may become more inclined to think about new ways to tackle problems, discover problems before they get out of hand, and even innovate. To do this, an organization must:
Promote a creative, optimistic atmosphere
Make sure employees feel that they will not be exploited
These three aspects must be ingrained into the corporate culture, and this is much easier to do right from the get-go. Cultures grow.
One main reason low-level employees may not be inspired to think and innovate is that they feel that they will not be rewarded, they will be exploited, or their ideas will never reach top-level employees. If a problem is occurring at the lower level that is the result of a middle-level error, the middle level may withhold information from the top in an attempt to cover their mistake up. This may result in the problem persisting, getting worse, and costing the organization much more than it otherwise would have. By having the top-level hold meetings with the low-level, and the low-level being able to communicate at whim with the top, this issue can be eliminated.
This is a communication issue, not a management one. The hierarchy of command (every employee has one manager) is still in place. But if employees choose, they should not be held back from communicating with anyone in the corporation by rigid communication structures.
Perhaps not every employee is “paid to think.” But if they come up with a good idea anyway, they should be given an avenue to communicate the idea and be rewarded.