In this article, no explicit advice is given for how to determine what the power hierarchy is in a given firm. All this article does is to tell us how we should act professionally. One aspect of this is that we must behave properly towards those who are above us in the hierarchy. We can act informally towards them in matters that are not connected to business. However, when dealing with matters that are connected to business, we have to defer to their place in the hierarchy and treat them accordingly.
So, what does that do for the person who is coming in as a new employee? Mainly, it offers that person a hint about how superiors and subordinates should interact. New employees should watch people at the firm interacting with one another. They should pay attention to which people speak to others in authoritative ways and are obeyed. They should not pay much attention to the tone or the level of formality in the interactions.
For example, let us imagine two men of about the same age are talking at work. They talk a little about the previous weekend’s football games. Then one says to the other “could you make sure that you take X into account when you write your report about Y?” The other person says “Okay, no problem.” We can tell from this that the first person is above the second in the hierarchy. This is because they gave an order, even though it was politely given and the second person obeyed immediately, even though they did so in an informal manner.
So, new employees have to watch interactions to see how various people behave towards one another. This can give the new employee hints about who has power in the firm.