members see their own goals in relation to the goals of the
organization. — Ken Blanchard
your organizational structure? While most organizations have one, do
the people in your organization know it or understand it? The time may
be ripe for you to take a fresh look at yours and consider these six
ways to enhance it.
Empower your leaders
Regardless of what your present organizational structure looks like
its functionality should empower its leaders. Successful leaders
thrive in an organizational structure that fosters creativity,
unleashes potential, and doesn’t stifle progress. This happens when
less emphasis is placed on hierarchical structure and more emphasis is
placed on empowering the right people in the right places. Empowerment
elevates the performance of leaders and encourages behavior that earns
the respect of followers. This respect allows leaders to build
partnerships within the organization that encourage open, two-way
communication and foster a sense of loyalty.
Ownership occurs within your organizational structure when there is
buy-in from the bottom up and system wide. If ownership is not shared
then the structure is self-serving and not empowering. People want
ownership and sense of belonging to a great cause. Without ownership
that can’t happen. Ownership holds everyone on the team accountable
for their decisions and actions. In order for employees to take
successful ownership of their work they must clearly understand
expectations. They must also have milestones where progress is
evaluated. Ensure that employees are serving in the right roles, give
ownership, and celebrate their victories.
Organizational structures don’t define you, you define them. As such,
your organizational structure should not be a document of containment
but a blueprint of open boundaries to grow and succeed. It should not
box people in but should free them to do what they do best. As your
organization grows so should your structure but in a way that
facilities your growth and not in ways that impede it. Provide
employees with the opportunity to be more flexible about how, when,
where, and with whom the work gets done. Employees want to be involved
in designing and managing their work tasks. Offer employees choices
and the ability to personalize work. Allow employees to share ideas
and be involved in the implementation of these ideas. As you expand
your borders, provide opportunities for employee growth and focus your
energies on the results that really matter.
Employees need to have a level of control over their work tasks. A
top-down organizational structure hinders the ability of
decision-making at the lowest level possible. Decision making on the
front-lines allows issues to be identified and addressed quickly. In a
lateral structure, employees understand where they fit and how they
impact the success of the organization. A flat organizational
structure allows employees at all levels of the organization to be
empowered and given autonomy over their work. This less rigid
structure allows for flexibility and promotes a feeling of equality
and inclusiveness. When lateral thinking is put into action it allows
for swifter response times that can translate into happier customers,
gratified clients, and a healthy bottom line. Lateral thinking is
empowering, efficient, and very effective.
The support needed to successfully achieve organizational goals is
gained by developing relationships based on trust and commitment. The
organizational structure can enhance or impede factors such as open
communication, management follow-through, accountability, consistency,
and concern for employee interests all of which foster a sense of
trust. Therefore, building trust is a deliberate action, not something
left to chance. It happens as relationships are given priority, it
grows in an atmosphere of community, and it pays huge dividends when
everyone is engaged. Without trust you have nothing. With it your
potential is unlimited.
Find common ground Employees prefer to work with others they see as similar to
themselves. When the organizational structure provides an inclusive
environment with common goals a sense of community is developed.
Finding common ground helps in the successful pursuit of these shared
goals. The organization must foster a shared purpose so that employees
understand why the organization exists and why they do what they do.
Finding common ground is a fundamental condition of your success. You
need to define, share it, but most of all; your team needs to own it.
Common ground is your path forward.
Does your organizational structure support the goals you trying to
reach? The continued success of your organization is dependent on your
ability to continually evaluate and enhance your organizational
structure. You can enhance your effectiveness by taking these steps to
ensure that your organization is ready to succeed in the 21st century.
* * * * *
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at
ddickerson@ lasvegastribune.com. Elizabeth Stincelli is the CEO of
Stincelli Advisors where she focuses on helping organizations engage
employees and improve organizational structure. Elizabeth holds a
Doctor of Management degree with an emphasis on organizational
leadership. Learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website,