How a functional organization works

Note: I have worked for and with a decent number of different companies and non-profit organizations. Here are the qualities I have noticed among the most functional ones:

1.  Open-Minded Leadership – Good ideas spring from every level of a team, and often the most practical suggestions come from front-line employees. Hence the success of Undercover Boss. Effective bosses are open to hearing employee suggestions. They may not always be implemented, but they should be honestly considered.

2.  Training – It is remarkable how few organizations invest in training. Huge investments of time and money are spent on acquiring and paying new hires, without spending even a couple of weeks to get them up to speed on protocol, history, IT, communications guidelines, workflow and policy. So much time would be saved with a concentrated up-front investment in training. The smart organizations know this and their employees hit the ground running from day one.

3.  Understanding – Smart leaders take time to understand their employee’s decisions, and correct errors when possible. They see mistakes as ‘teachable moments’, and avoid reacting with anger. The more you understand your staff, the more you can improve their efficiency, or, where necessary, know where to cut.

4.  Smart Hiring – It is critical to fully engage in the hiring process. Some people kick butt in interviews but not on the job. I am a big believer in referrals as well where possible. A little online research goes a long way as well.

5.  Transparency – The more an employee knows about the organization from the top, the more invested they will be in its success, and the more they will understand their bosses decision-making process. Trust employees with information whenever possible.

6. Following The Plan – Successful organizations spend part of the year cautiously and rationally creating a plan, and part of the year fully executing that plan, followed by a period of analysis. It is suicide to switch midstream, or cut back resources at the last minute out of fear or because it is taking longer to show results. Long-term, sustainable growth requires long-term investment and patience.

7.  Having Fun – Employees will put up with a lot of BS if their workplace is fun and they have friends at work. Social events are not frivilous, they are critical to retention, employee happiness, and team-building. Effective organizations are fun organizations, and staff stick around and work harder.

8.  Appreciation – Successful organizations are thankful for their employees, customers, donors, clients, evangelists, leadership, and friends. And they say thank you every day.

9. Organization – A clear system for filing and organization helps everybody stay organized. Multiple or confusing systems lead to a rats nest of files on the server, redundant systems, and just a total mess. Employees aren’t mind-readers, so take the time to carefully explain the system being used, and allow for some initial error.

10. Forward-Thinking – Effective organizations are not focussed on putting out fires, they are strategizing for the future and looking out for opportunities.

There are many other qualities of course…feel free to add in the comments!


Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

2 responses to “How a functional organization works

  1. As an addition…do your research, hire good people, and step out of their way so they can do what you hired them to do.

  2. Love this! I work for myself, and have since 2006, after being canned from a Big City Newspaper that did almost none of these things — training? Hah! It was a horrible place with shitty morale. Wish I had found a place with 1/20th of this common sense.

    If only every manager would stop ass-covering long enough to think all of this through.

    I would also add — say thank you! Praise 3x as often as you carve someone a new one. People work plenty hard enough and too many bosses think that’s “their job”. Then wonder why people are miserable and leave.

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