Change Your Org Chart, Change … What?

Posted on May 22, 2019

Does your organization treat the org chart like a game of musical chairs? Shifting leaders around, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result? If so, you are not alone.

Org Design 101 teaches us that any effective design starts with understanding the work that needs to be accomplished within that organization. We map out all of the tasks that need to be done and then logically group those tasks into roles and those roles into jobs. We look at the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to perform each of those tasks and create a competency model that clearly lays out what it takes in order to succeed in the associated roles and job. Then, we put a people development program into place in order to grow the knowledge, skills, and abilities that our org design demonstrates we need.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. It’s a huge investment for a company to make sure that they have the “right” jobs defined, much less make sure that the right person is in that job and that person is set up to be successful. And it’s often not a process that can only be completed once. As your business shifts and/or your company grows, the work usually changes and that means that your organization design needs to be revisited in order for you to continue to complete that work as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately, what is more common is that, as the work morphs, the organization’s design stays stagnant, even as more jobs, or even entire divisions, are added. Teams start to experience pain points like unclear handoffs, duplicate work, work that continues to be performed even though it no longer adds value “because we’ve always done it this way”, and high potential employees who leave because progression opportunities are limited by the company clinging to their outdated pyramid org structure. Leadership positions might go unfilled, or be filled with less than ideal candidates, because the people with the technical expertise necessary to perform one role that is part of the job don’t also want the role of leading people, or vice versa.

Too often, the only solution that senior leadership can think of is to just put the team under a new manager or vice president, but that by itself is like expecting a new captain to keep a ship with holes in it from sinking without repairing the holes. New leadership by itself is not a solution; you also need to fix the holes in the structure.

For organizations whose work regularly changes — whether it’s due to mergers or spin offs or changing market forces or changing regulations — it can make a lot of sense to build the organization effectiveness capability internally. The irony is that you need good org design in order to design an effective internal team; this is basically the chicken-or-the-egg quandary. You can’t build the team until you know what you need and you won’t know what you need until you do the design. Contact me — I’d love to help you do this once and do it right.