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flat organizational structure
21/11/2019

Working towards flatter hierarchies

What is the best way to develop a flat organizational structure is and why flat hierarchies don’t work for all companies.

 

The work environment is made up of people, so we could well say that what happens behind the door of an organization is a good example of what happens outside of them (and vice versa). The emergence of new generations in the world of work such as millennials and Gen Z has shaken the foundations of the business landscape. Hierarchies in the form of a pyramid, bureaucracy and managing for the sake of managing are now looked upon with some skepticism. In contrast with this, new forms of horizontal management have been created that represent the mentality of those who are now taking command. Or to put it another way, companies are now thinking about support between individuals before competitiveness, and communication and supervision before control and micromanaging. In other words, what is considered a less pyramidal and more collaborative organizational structure has been born, where power is outdated and individual autonomy is welcomed. So, let’s take a look in more detail at why it really means to work towards flatter hierarchies and what the advantages and disadvantages of this new organizational model are.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of a flat organizational structure

 

A horizontal organizational structure goes hand-in-hand with equality. In these types of structures, management positions between the C-Suite category and front-line managers are done away with, the latter being seen more as the profile of a team promoter and not so much a supervisor. So, policies, responsibilities and authority are completely aligned because everyone is considered equal.

There are several advantages of a horizontal organizational structure. For one, communication flows much faster and effectively, since there is less bureaucracy. On top of this, individual autonomy becomes a strong drive to increase job performance. By treating all individuals equally, competitiveness is also reduced. And, by eliminating management profiles, company costs go down.

However, it’s precisely the advantages of a horizontal organizational structure that can become disadvantages, depending on how you look at it. Since there is a shortage of supervision, poor decisions can be made. As well as this, individual morale can decline as there are no ways to scale professionally (precisely because management figures are out of the picture). And, last but not least, these types of structures are not scalable as the company grows and incorporates new needs. So, what’s the solution?

 

A flat organizational structure is not good for all companies 

 

Ok, so while a purely horizontal organizational structure may work for small and medium enterprises, large organizations and Fortune 500 Companies may need some pyramidal structure to properly maintain work dynamics. In these cases, the ideal thing would be to find a hybrid model, something more scalable and flexible and above all, based on cooperation between departments and effective communication. These types of more holistic organizational structures have many more opportunities for survival in a work environment that is constantly changing, especially since the figure of freelancer, remote working and cloud computing are taking action and paving different ways ahead.

It’s the responsibility of all individuals in a company to constantly (re)think corporate design so that the company continues to sail towards success, despite the difficulties they may come across along the way. This is also a pretty good CEO attitude, don’t you think? Make a note of it!

 

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