In response to your questions and comments on organization structure…

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen organization structures built around individual incompetence or inadequate processes.  It seems like people spend a lot of time looking for ways to work around problems rather than correcting them.

Let’s take the first part of that statement…individual incompetence.

Periodically, we find that an employee is not capable of doing the entire job the way we need it done.  They may not be a total disaster in the role, in fact, they may actually be good at some parts of the job, but they are consistently failing to meet all of the desired goals.   Now, for the sake of this example, let’s assume that we have managed their performance as per the post on “Managing Performance”, and we are still not seeing improvement in those key areas in which we need it.

Organization structure must be a function of process, not individual performance.  Would you build a soccer team with two goalies because one is not getting the job done?

I have often seen managers decide to create another position and add a person to accomplish these functions.  This seems to happen most often in those cases in which the current under-performing employee is a long service employee…i.e., been there a long time.  Of course, what they are doing is hiring another person to pick up the slack in the area in which the incumbent is underperforming.  They are failing to address the core issue that the employee is not performing to expectations.  They are starting a process of restructuring to split out responsibilities and assign them to other people.

The effects are that:

  • They are changing processes to fit an individual’s capabilities.  Those processes may be very good just as they are.  By changing them you may be making them less efficient, thereby bringing down the productivity of ALL individuals who are part of that process.
  • They are changing structures to make up for an individual’s inabilities.  They are adding positions and building a structure around a weakness.  That adds cost to the system, and is demotivating to other employees.  It also brings down their performance, because they see that poor performance is tolerated.

Both of these actions cost the organization money.

Structure must be a function of process.  Determine the process needed to produce your product or service.  Identify the roles required to deliver at each step of the process.  Fill the roles with people capable of performing all the tasks.  Manage their performance.  Eliminate incompetence.