The Functional Organization Structure is the Most Common
A functional organizational structure is simply one in which there is a fairly strict hierarchy of responsibility. It is often depicted as a pyramid in graphic organizers with the workers/staff members at the bottom of the pyramid and comprising the majority of the company’s employees. Next would come store or branch managers, then supervisors, through however many layers to the president/CEO of the company.
This type of organizational structure tends to work best for companies who offer a solitary product or service. This includes factories and many of the larger retail operations.
With the functional organization structure individual jobs are a focal point with similar jobs being grouped or clustered together to form a department. There may be a sales department, a human resources department, an accounting department, and so on depending on how large the organization actually is. Most of the departments will be overseen by a department head or director.
Some of the benefits to utilizing the functional organizational structure include having a chain of command which is fairly stable and linear. Each level of employee generally knows who they would report any issues to and how to elevate any grievance to the next level.
The actual people usually receive a good deal of support and nurturing to become highly qualified employees of the company. There is often a relatively standardized method for training new employees and clear leadership and guidance along the way to ensure the employees’ needs are being met.
Additionally, the functional organization structure allows for professional similarities among the groups of each department so that should issues arise, there is a built in support system. This also means that more than one person should be able to fulfill the duties of someone else in the same department. This provides the company itself with a broad base of expertise.
A final benefit is that the functional organization structure provides a fairly simple, well-laid out path for advancement of its employees. Each employee has some idea of how they can advance in their job – such as earning more responsibilities, titles, or even changing departments altogether.
Depending on the actual size of the organization there can be a few drawbacks to the functional organizational structure. Communication among departments can be slow and cumbersome because there are so many people to notify and need to participate in discussions. This can also be a deterrent for solving problems because there can be numerous departments that need to be consulted prior to making actual decisions.
Finally, there are times when a specific department can lose track of the bigger picture because its focus has become so narrow as to only include the needs of that particular department. However, most of these obstacles can be overcome through strong leadership at the highest levels of the business.
Because the functional organization structure has been around for so long it is often the most comfortable structure and is certainly the most familiar to the vast majority of the population.
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