The Challenge of Organizational Design for New Leaders

March 11, 2020

New leaders

Moving from a rank-and-file job to a first-time managerial position requires a significant shift in focus and perspective that can be difficult to navigate. You’re no longer responsible just for your personal performance; now you’re charged with creating a positive culture, engaging your team members, and providing them with the information and tools they need to work efficiently.

Beyond the people management aspect of leadership, you also need to position your team or organization for success by maintaining or establishing the correct organizational design. As a new leader, you have three key missions: hitting your desired results, managing the people on your team, and making sure the team or department organization is properly set up.

Hit your goals

If you want to succeed, you need to set goals and targets, which help establish focus and direction and provide benchmarks for determining whether your team is actually succeeding or at least going in the right direction.

To get the results you desire, you need to know how to set goals, which begins with a thoughtful consideration of what you want to achieve and aligning that to the broader goals of the organization you work in. Goals and targets should be clear and well-defined, so they provide direction and are measurable and achievable.

When goals and targets are aligned properly, the members of your team should experience feelings of satisfaction, motivation, and fulfillment when they are achieved. If your team members don’t get charged up by hitting the team’s goals, then some adjustment may be needed.

Manage your team

Get to know the individuals on your team to learn their strengths and weaknesses. Encourage open communication so that employees want to offer suggestions for improvement and feel included in how the team is run. Each person in the organization should feel he or she has a voice regardless of position.

The more your team believes you care about their input, are an advocate for their success, and are focused on their professional development, the more invested they will be in helping the team succeed. They will even be motivated to make tough organizational changes if that will help the team be more successful.

Properly design your team’s or department’s organization

This step will ensure the sustainability of the previous two. Put another way, to get the desired results over the long term, you need to have the right organizational design as your foundation. There are three steps you can take to determine whether you need a redesign:

  • Assess how the organization is currently performing. Where are you hitting targets—and where are you not?
  • Identify and prioritize any gaps or misalignments.
  • Evaluate what is expected of the organization by stakeholders outside the company.
  • Use the organization cube model to see where your organization is aligned and where it is misaligned. Are your work processes aligned to what stakeholders expect, and do they provide the results they need to deliver? Is your structure helping achieve your desired strategic results? Are you measuring the right things? Are people on the team rewarded for the behavior that will lead to success? Is the culture contributing to a positive environment?

Organizational design shapes the way your organization operates. When processes, systems, and choices are correctly aligned, it helps your team more easily adapt to new ways of working and instills a common purpose that creates a culture focused on success. Remember, organizational redesign is a process; it does not happen overnight. New leaders need to systematically review their team’s or organization’s current alignment to determine if a redesign is necessary to deliver the sought-after results.

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About The Author

Principal of AlignOrg Solutions, Reed Deshler specializes in developing strategic organization designs and helping companies bring them to fruition. As an organization consultant, he works with executive teams and HR teams to define winning strategies, align their organization and business models for success, and mobilize employees and stakeholders in the desired direction. He’s guided Fortune 500 companies—including 3M, Abbott, Hertz, Chevron, Cisco, and General Mills—as well as middle-market businesses and nonprofits through change successfully and helped them solve complex organizational challenges. Deshler is co-author of Mastering the Cube: Overcoming Stumbling Blocks and Building an Organization that Works, a guidebook that outlines AlignOrg Solutions’ organization alignment process. He regularly writes and speaks on issues related to organization transformation and ways to implement—and create buy-in—among stakeholders for new business designs. Learn more about becoming an Alignment Leader.

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