Before making organisational design decisions that will be productive and sustainable, enabling sound planning for the future, the organisation needs to be able to articulate its current state clearly.
Already cringing? This is more than just consultant-speak or HR waffling: it is as simple as knowing where you are so you can work out how to get to where you need to be. The reality is, though, that there are many reasons companies fall more than a little behind when it comes to organisational documentation. High growth, mergers, jobs constantly shifting to meet client needs or market pressures, lone wolf business units, decentralised management, or just too busy with business as usual – all these and more factor into the mix.
And this time, size doesn’t matter. We may not be surprised to find SMEs with “fluid organisational arrangements”, but at Think Evans we’ve quite regularly seen large corporations lacking org charts, hundreds of job descriptions known to be out of date, five versions of reported headcount, or relying on internal phone directories as the “source of truth” for who works where.
Large or small, these were successful businesses but none was in a position to make informed organisational design choices to respond to changing markets. When the organisational design “housekeeping” is not up to date, the outcome is left more to chance than good planning whatever response is made. Never a good look, and even worse in an uncertain market.
But don’t panic. Falling behind with this is not an unspeakable sin and catching up is very do-able. In fact, doing the “housekeeping” often gives the team the confidence to deal with the growth and/or change that caused the backlog. So perhaps it is time to take a step back and start building the knowledge bank needed to make the right decisions, down to grass roots of org charts, job descriptions, responsibilities and contractual terms.
The key is to do it while you have time.
The key lesson learned (the hard way by many other organisations) is that making organisational change decisions on the run will often end in tears – unsustainable solutions which slide back unchecked to the familiar territory of “how we like to do things round here”. So give the organisation a real shot at successful change by allowing enough time to collect and analyse crucial information, providing a firm and factual foundation from which to work.
To get the full picture don’t forget to consider the supporting processes. Employee data may uncover quick wins such as long term contractors, underleveraged management or market rate adjustments. However, unless the checks and controls used to manage the organisation are in place and working then any hard won changes made inevitably revert with time. For example, look at:
- Has the effectiveness of performance management processes and execution been considered?
- When was staff data quality last assessed?
- Has headcount reporting and transparency been reviewed in the last few years?
Questions? Drop us a line about setting up for success by investing the time to understand the current organisation, protect and enhance core processes and take the business on the journey to robust organisational design as part of good governance and responsible leadership.