The flat organization structure. Have you ever noticed how reporting an issue or problem is easier and more satisfying with some businesses than with others? This could be due to the organizational structure of the business itself. Many smaller businesses operate with a flat organization structure which provides for a great deal more flexibility than other forms of operation.
Most of the larger companies have a number of layers between the actual workers and upper management. This can sometimes make getting anything done at the customer level somewhat cumbersome because the floor salesperson has to go through a number of different channels in order to make any changes or sometimes even provide the customer with the sought after answers.
A flat organizational structure means there are very few or often no levels of management between the staff and the managers. This means that the staff has some decision-making authority. Allowing the staff to have a say in what and how things are done in a company can provide for faster customer service responses.
The basic premise of the flat organization structure is that having well-trained workers who have a true voice in daily operations means they will be more productive because they’ll have a viable interest in seeing the company succeed, since they’re also now responsible for operations.
This type of organizational structure works best for small organizations or for smaller units of operation in larger companies. When a company becomes quite large, the flat organizational structure can become counter-productive because then there is too much difference between offices. For example, there have been instances where customers were given a discount on an item in one store, but not in the same store in a different location. This does not promote good customer relations.
However, for the smaller organizations allowing the staff to have the authority to make those on-the-spot decisions can go a long way towards promoting positive customer interactions.
The flat organizational structure has three basic benefits: communication, flexibility, and degree of supervision. Communication in this type of organization is generally faster, more reliable, and is usually more effective. Because the staff has direct input into the business, there is less likelihood of behind-the-scenes fighting and disagreement. Staff will usually get onboard with new decisions much quicker due to the fact that they’ve been able to provide input.
The flexibility to make decisions on an as needed basis means the company will be better able to serve its customers. Customers won’t necessarily have to wait while the staff hunts down a manager who then has to hunt down a supervisor before a decision could be made. The staff member would be able to take care of the customer immediately.
Finally, the flat organization structure is a bottom-up approach and relies on having highly qualified, competent staff which frequently equates to happier workers and low turnover rates. There are also fewer upper management employees which can result in an increased profit margin.