The ability to optimise your organization structure is a core skill for managers and leaders. As a manager ideally you have input into the optimal structure for your organization. To learn about Organisation Structure check out my Training Video.
An effective structure is critical to delivering your strategy and your day to day operations. Structure underpins strategy and accelerates delivery. Structure is about the roles, the people in the roles and the links between roles.
Defining your optimal structure can be challenging. Designing the right structure is about asking the right questions on what your structure needs to deliver. This helps you to specify your design criteria. Lets have a look at some example questions.
Have you designed your structure around your customers, geographies or core processes?
Have you defined what you need your structure to deliver? Are you delivering effectively on both operations and strategy? These operate at different rhythms and often compete for resources, with operations usually winning out. Build capacity, capability and responsibility for both operations and strategy into your structure and deliver on both.
Have you looked at your structure from the customers perspective? Is your structure visible to the customer? Are your points of contact clear and does your structure make it easy for your customer to do business with you?
Differing customer requirements is very often the norm and it can be challenging to be efficient.
Does your structure support the management of different customer requirements and is there a level of flexibility built in?
Have you defined the activities that provide value for each of your customers? An approach I find very helpful is the application of lean principles to your customer process flows, identifying value add activities for each customer process.
Is your structure flexible enough to integrate new initiatives and new business, are you set up to manage growth? When you have people in your organization who deliver results, they are very often assigned new tasks, even if there isn’t a good fit with their role or they are already very stretched. As new initiatives and new business come in you to your organization, take the time to stand back and assess your structure to see where the activities best fit and what changes can be made to your structure to accommodate these effectively.
Learning & Growth
Have you built capacity in your structure for learning, growth and succession? The more capable your people are the more efficient and effective your organization will be.
Does your structure make the best use of available skills and competencies? Have you mapped the available skills and competencies in your organization against those needed to deliver your strategy and your day to day operations.
Roles & Responsibilities
Are the roles in your structure clear? Do people know what is expected of them? Have interdependencies and linkages between roles been identified? Have responsibilities and hand-offs been clarified?
Very often where things fall down is at the boundaries between jobs or because hand-offs or responsibilities aren’t clear. Have overlaps been identified and addressed so you don’t have 2 people responsible for the same thing and has responsibility been assigned for all critical tasks.
Have processes been mapped, steps been clarified and responsibilities been assigned. Lack of clarity leads to reduced productivity and can often lead to conflict.
Cross Functional Working
Does your structure support cross-functional working? Do you leveraging cross-functional skills as a means of capability building in your team? How aligned are the functions in your organization and are there disconnects? As you design your structure build in mechanisms for cross-functional working.
Be sure to involve your team and your key stakeholders in the design process
Download a copy of the Organization Structure Questionnaire to help specify the design criteria for your structure.
Moving from design criteria to a final structure involves a number of key steps
- Document the overall role of the function using your design criteria, your operating requirements and your strategy as inputs.
- Group all like tasks into roles, so there is a logical division of workload. A good fit of activities in a role drives efficiency.
- Establish the number of headcounts needed for each role this may require time studies. In large organizations there may be a number of people doing a similar role. In a small organization very often people have many different responsibilities.
- Write a job description for each role type. Where possible build in variety, learning and job enrichment. To learn more about job descriptions check out my Job Descriptions Training on our Training Videos page
- On completion of the role types and job descriptions, design a structure that accommodates the roles effectively, keeping like roles in a group or team. Ideally have no more than 6-8 direct reports per team leader.
Designing and evolving your structure to keep pace with strategy and business changes is a core skills for managers and leaders. Have you taken the time to build your skills and competency in organization structure? To learn more about organisation design check out the links in the Structure section of our People Skills page.
Additional (Free) Resources
Talent Management Infographic – Outlines the tools and processes that are used for managing and growing people.
Our People Skills page has links to trainings and best practices that accelerate personal, team and organisation development.