In today’s interconnected world, organizations rely more on flat organizational structures that promote collaboration and team-building than on traditional pyramid structures of leadership that facilitate bureaucracy. This is because an even playing field allows the organizations to leverage the passions, talent, and expertise of the employees to find a better way of overcoming business challenges.
A flat organization implies that there are very few or no management levels separating the leaders and the subordinates. The benefit of having such a company structure is that it promotes an increased involvement of all the employees in decision-making and reduces too much supervision.
A flat organizational structure elevates the responsibility sense of every employee inside the organization. It also strives to eliminate the excess management layers, which results in improved communication and coordination. Reduced levels between the leaders and the staff help in improving the decision-making process as it gives people more freedom to think and act. Also, the lack of a middle management level boosts the company’s budget.
However, a flat company structure is not without its imperfections. Organizations that follow this structure always run the risk of generalization and confusion if they fail to hone and direct their team goals and talents in the right direction. They can find success only when they allow the specialists to pursue their passion projects that provide the organization with team support, and that would mean dividing the teams up into smaller units.
It is not easy to change an entire organization’s structure overnight. However, these few steps can make the transition of a company’s structure into a flatter, more learning-focused and collaborative one easier:
- Reducing the various intermittent job levels. Doing this will encourage a work environment where the employees will be striving for better results and focused on personal development and team learning.
- Rewarding the team for group success instead of celebrating individual achievements.
- Making individual as well as team goals public so that it can create a sense of purpose and serve as an encouragement.
- Training the managers to think and behave as mentors or coaches rather than traditional people managers.
- Reviewing the organizational chart every now and then to see where cross-functional roles can be created.
Embracing a flatter company culture can help to build a sense of community and encourage team bonding. Therefore, the key to having a flat organizational culture is to find ways of helping the employees feel more empowered and collaborative while generating creative, efficient results at the same time.
The main objective of having a flat company structure is to give the employees bigger roles in the decision-making process so that they are encouraged enough to become more active as well as productive. That is why companies having a flat structure experience better productivity as they get more efficient work completed in a shorter time. This type of organizational structure is more prevalent in law firms, hospitals, universities, restaurants, and Internet marketing companies.
The primary focus of any flat organization is to reduce bureaucracy and provide their employees with more active roles by giving them the opportunity to become more involved in various decision-making and problem-solving activities within the organization. One of the greatest advantages of having a flat company structure is that it helps in bringing down the overall cost of operations. This is because fewer levels imply fewer employees, which means the company has to spend less on payroll and office space. Also, because of fewer people in the group, every person becomes more accountable. Other benefits include:
A flat organizational structure promotes team coordination and communication. Owing to fewer management levels between the supervisors and the workers, information is relayed more efficiently and extensively. More often than not, it has been seen that while passing important work-related information, it gets distorted by the time it reaches the lowest level. At times, things even get lost in translation. Therefore, if there are lesser departments, the information will be passed on more efficiently and accurately. Effective communication can eliminate delays in decision-making and allow work to continue smoothly and seamlessly. It also means that, in a flat organization, it is easy to implement policies as they can be communicated more quickly.
Companies having a flat structure encourage all their employees to participate more in all the activities taking place within the organization. In this work environment, their voices are better heard, their opinions are more valued, their ideas are seriously entertained, and their strategies are effectively implemented. For this reason, the employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions and sharing their perspectives without any fear of negative consequences.
This healthy exchange of opinions and ideas allows productivity and creativity to be enhanced. This means that a flat company structure helps the employees to become independent thinkers and effective team players. Not just that, it also enables a working environment that is conducive for both group interaction and personal growth.
In flatter organizations, the employees get more opportunities to learn various new skills from their colleagues, which can help them in becoming more efficient and productive. Therefore, cross-training is inevitable in such situations. Also, with a flat company structure, all the subordinates get to work quite closely with their managers, because of which the learning and training take place continuously.
A flat organizational structure allows the company a better insight into its own operation process and employee performance. They get to identify easily which employee is contributing more and who is being rather passive. Another benefit of this structure is that it enables improved customer relations. Companies with flat structures have a better ability to stay close to the customers and responding more constructively to their changing needs. Also, since the bureaucracy is reduced in such organizations, more equality is seen amongst employees. Employees display a greater sense of camaraderie, commitment, and ownership in their workplace, as they feel more empowered to impart their ideas and execute them with more confidence.
Common knowledge seems to suggest that the larger organizations are more likely to have multi-level structures whereas the smaller ones are more likely to have flatter organizational structures. However, this is not always true and applicable for all cases. More often than not, in reality, many large organizations exert much effort to flatten their structures so that they can reap the benefits of a flat organizational structure that offers smaller as well as more manageable channels.