03/04/17 By Jennifer Brown

In 1913, Henry Ford rolled out the first assembly line for mass production of automobiles. Organized, efficient, and revolutionary – there has been no looking back since. The same concept goes for teams. When everyone is responsible for a piece of the puzzle, the process flows smoothly.

However, as workplace culture evolves and employees are asking more than ever before for mentoring, learning opportunities, and cross-functional roles; the idea of efficiency is being challenged by a move toward “scalable learning”. Instead of the traditional top-down leadership, we are seeing a shift where teams are becoming smaller, flatter and more empowered regardless of your level within the company. A flatter structure increases an employee’s level of responsibility and removes excess layers of management, which can allow for improved efficiency, easier decision-making and improved communication between employees. And who knows! Susie in accounting may have the idea of a lifetime for the marketing group – but you will never uncover this gem if everyone continues to work in their traditional silos.

Changing an entire organization’s design overnight is no easy task. However, here are a few steps you can take to start a transition into a flatter, more collaborative, learning-focused culture. For example,

• Reduce the number of job levels. This will take the focus off “climbing the corporate ladder” and instead encourage an environment where employees are striving for results while focused on team learning and personal development.
• Reward for team success, not just individual achievement.
• Make individual and team goals public to create a sense of purpose and encouragement.
• Train managers to think as mentors or coaches versus traditional people managers.
• Review the organizational chart to see where you can create cross-functional roles.

Another bonus…Embracing a flatter culture can build a sense of community (we’re all in this together!). To get started, take a step back and think about the way works gets done in your organization today – where do you see opportunities for employees to learn new skills and collaborate more? There is no magic recipe – every company functions differently. The key is to find ways to help your employees feel more empowered and more collaborative while at the same time generating creative, efficient results.

Need help analyzing your organizational structure? Email us or give us a call at 703-587-5615 . We help our clients every day uncover ways to operate at a higher level. We can do the same for you.