Choosing Your Organizational Structure

No two leaders will approach heading up a team the same way. Some see the role as more of a motivator, while others take a hands-on approach to managing. But whether you step into an existing role or you get to create one from scratch, the way you structure your team will have a direct impact on your company culture.

In a new course, How to Become a More Likable Boss, HR expert Dr. Maggie Sizer explains two major organizational structures: top-down hierarchies and lateral or horizontal structures. Each has its own benefits and fits well in certain situations. By learning those differences, you can decide the best way to structure your own team.

Top-Down Hierarchies

To understand a top-down hierarchy, picture a pyramid. The CEO or president of your company is at the very top of that pyramid with a very limited team of upper-level management beneath. The small group beneath the CEO will report only to that person, but they will have a small group of employees beneath them, who will each have a small group beneath them.

In a top-down hierarchy, the leader interacts primarily with those few direct reports, who interact directly with their own direct reports. Information is passed down and up the chain this way. Although this can reduce the stress of one manager communicating with dozens, even hundreds, of employees, it does tend to make employees feel less invested in the stakes of the work they’re doing.

Lateral Structures

In a lateral structure, teams report to project managers, who all work with upper management in a mediator role. This is a flatter structure where upper management may have an “open-door policy” that encourages employees to interact with the leadership team. However, you may find this kind of structure leads to more work, especially as your business grows and a small leadership team has to interact with more employees.

Another disadvantage of this structure is that the environment can become chaotic and disorganized, with no clear line of communication to the top. It can, however, lead to an increased connection with the purpose of the organization for even the lowest-tier employees. It also helps employees see the reason for any changes or sudden commands since upper management will loop them in on the discussions leading up to those decisions.

It’s important, no matter which organizational style you’re working with, that you embrace a leadership style where you understand your team and regularly communicate with them. Dr. Sizer provides the tools necessary to do this in her online course. Sign up today and equip yourself with the tools you need to discover your own leadership style.

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