Last month in the Beacon we looked at the basics of structure – how to organise the work into discrete jobs and then deciding on which jobs will report to which other jobs.
This month is a bit of a download of the tips that I have found most useful when assisting clients with their structure:
Put your best people closest to the action. If you have a leadership team, put your best player in the job that has the biggest strategic impact on your business. In other roles, make sure your best people are the ones that have most contact with the customers.
Focus on value. Does your business have all the roles required to implement its strategy? Are the specific activities required for success actively built into jobs rather than left to chance? Does each job add value?
Have crystal-clear interdependencies. Has duplication of effort been eliminated? Is anything falling between the cracks? Does everyone know EXACTLY where one job stops and another job starts? Are hand-offs between jobs minimised (this is where most errors occur)?
Do-able jobs. Is the job content realistic or are people overworked? Is there a tough managerial accountability somehow residing in a lower level job?
Decision making. People generally do not react well to a vague waffle about empowerment. They react much better when they have explicit decision-making authority delegated to them, and when that authority is sufficient for them to be able to do their jobs without constant recourse to their manager.
Communication around decision making. Is it totally clear to everyone, for every important decision, which jobs provide input, which job(s) makes it, and how conflicts are resolved?
Establish systems for the seamless sharing of knowledge. Everybody should have available to them every piece of information that might help them do their job better.
Embrace the informal. Structure and job design are formal mechanisms for organising people to achieve outputs. We have all heard the expression “Its like herding cats,” and this is often the case when managers try to rely exclusively on these formal mechanisms. Norms, commitments, understandings, networks, values get the job done if they are allowed to. They complement the formal structure by providing customary ways of filling in the blanks and finding work-arounds that always exist.
Next month we’ll look at flatland and other less traditional models. Have a great month!
Let's Talk Business
by Chris Bunce
Chris has 28 years’ experience as a management consultant and business coach. During this time he has worked with clients in many industries and of all shapes and sizes, including some in Australia, Asia and the US. Nowadays he is passionate about improving the lives of Aucklanders by helping business owners to master the very few management practices that actually make a difference to their success. Chris lives in Blockhouse Bay with his wife, Cathie, having lived in or around the area for most of his life.