How can your team operate most effectively? What is the right team structure for your organisation?
Once people know their roles they also need to know how they interact with other people in the team or organisation. This is what team structure is about.
The structure of a team, organisation or company can take many forms, for example ‘flat’, ‘hierarchical’, or ‘matrix’ are all descriptions of structures, but there is no single correct structure for every team or circumstance. The type of structure that a team should employ depends on the nature of the task and the nature of the people within the team.
Take a fresh look at what organisational structure you need
You may need to start with a blank piece of paper and ask some specific questions. Who needs to communicate with whom to make effective decisions? Who needs to work together to fulfil their responsibilities? Who are individuals accountable to for what they are doing? Who can they go to for help with a specific issue? Who is responsible for supporting their personal development? What things need to happen for your team to be able to achieve its goal? Does your present structure support that aim? The larger the organisation the harder it is to answer all these questions in one go, so you can start by looking at individual teams first, work out how they need to function, and then look at how each team needs to operate and interact.
Form should follow function
A structure should support communication and decision-making in the most effective way possible in order that you can achieve the goal your team is pursuing. This means that the structure is likely to need to change over time. Organisational growth, replacement staff, new goals or different stages within a project can all spell a need for a change in structure. On some tasks it may even be that the roles within a team need to change within the course of a day or even within an hour. Most teams won’t have to deal with this speed of change but the lesson is that – as with every other tool in planning – we have to remain flexible. The structure is not the end in itself: it is just a tool to achieve our end. Achieving our dream or mission is the most important thing so if our structure is hindering us then we need to adapt it.