Organize business to your strengths, not arbitrary ideals

posted by Jeff | Saturday, August 8, 2015, 12:54 PM | comments: 0

This isn't about where I work, but in talking to a friend today, it's where a lot of people work. Managers have a funny way of showing up into an organization and changing the way that it's structured. The change is usually based on some ideal that they came up with that, in their minds, would lead to a more efficient and productive machine.

Most of the time, they're totally wrong.

I won't suggest that hierarchy is bad in an organization. That's kind of naive, and as organizations grow, there has to be some amount of structure. It can still be pretty flat at the low level, I think, and be more specific as you go up the chain. However, hierarchy is often used to enforce two things that seem obvious and necessary, but actually get in the way.

One, hierarchy assumes that people are motivated by moving up through it. This is a completely inaccurate view of humans. Some people contribute really well, and do not aspire to any form of leadership. That's OK, because they have value as individual contributors that you can count on.

Two, hierarchy assumes that there is parity between the roles and titles you've created to the actual skills of the people that you've hired. This too ignores the way that humans work. Most everyone is good at more than one thing, and their job satisfaction may be derived from doing those things. If you take one away to fill your arbitrary and ideal structure, you end up with less happy people. Less happy people do not contribute as strongly. This, by the way, includes people with strong leadership ability who also get in the weeds and do grunt work. Don't hold them back because of the structure you want to impose.

Don't get too hung up on an org chart at the lower levels. Those organizations should be fluid and adapt according to the people on the payroll.


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