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Dear Workforce How Do We Beef Up Skill Levels While Revamping Our Organization

We are reviewing the organizational structure of one of our business units with the aim of adding an additional level of supervision. We expect this business unit to triple in size by year’s end, and want to beef up skills levels and responsibilities way before then. What are some guidelines as we undertake this process?
September 7, 2011
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Dear Makeover:

This is a great opportunity for you to create the systems and processes you need for the future. A redesign will help you look at many facets of your organization to consider how to position your organization for success.

You may want to look at the two sides of organizational power to determine which one best supports your requirements for managing marketplace demands. One is "distributed" and the other is "consolidated," where most of the power is given to the top layer of the organization.

The "distributed organization" could be really appealing. With this type of company, information, decision-making, resources and accountabilities exist closest to your marketplace, customer or core work. Advantages include faster decision-making, quicker and more adaptable responses to customers, and an ability to manage quality at the point of origin and service at the point of customer contact. And because distributing power to the unit usually translates into distributing power to core workers, greater employee commitment and innovation follows.

Although this is not a complete description of everything that goes into designing an organization, it provides a look at many important elements.

Management Strategies

Consolidated Distributed
Decision-making style Top-down (autocratic) Collaborative, personal choice
Information control Information controlled by management (access by permission) Information shared across organization, open, unrestricted
Accountability Leaders accountable for organization success, core workers held accountable for their specific tasks Personal choice to be accountable for organization's success of failure
Resources (such as access to money, equipment) Resources held and controlled by management Resources accessed and managed by core workers
Work tasks Tasks narrowly defined and simple Broad, complex tasks
Work process Processes controlled by management Controlled by core workers in response to business requirements
Customer service and quality control Specific issues go to a specialty (such as transferring calls to customer service rather than whoever answers phone helping customer), but decisions, such as exceptions to a customer-service policy, are made by management Decisions by core workers--e.g. whoever stumbles across problem can deal with it
Structure Organization by function, geography, product, etc. Matrix (multiple reporting relationships), networked (project team-based) or virtual (everything is contracted except for that which you're superior)
Core employee skills Specific to tasks/responsibilities (management is making key decisions, so they're the ones that need the management skills) Broad business, technical, management skills because employees are making more decisions
Rewards Rewards related to tasks and individual performance Rewards based on business outcomes and unit performances
Management style The management wants to control processes and be consistent There's a premium on flexibility and innovation
Training Training is specific to job responsibility Broad business-literacy training, skill development
Oversight High oversight, low supervisor/subordinate Minimal oversight or self-managing teams, high supervisor/subordination ratio

SOURCE: Kevin Herring, president, Ascent Management Consulting, Tucson, Arizona, March 1, 2005. Herring is co-author ofPractical Guide for Internal Consultants.

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The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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