Every organization needs to put in place a structure for efficient operation. An organizational structure is defined as a hierarchical representation of individuals and what they do within the organization. It sheds some light on critical values an organization stands for and its character. Therefore, it is essential for individuals who get into new organizations to understand the organizational structures immediately. The type of organizational structure to be adopted by an organization is determined by corporate values or the specific activities that an organization is involved in.
Effects of Organizational Structure on Employees
There is a close relationship between organizational structure and human behaviors. Its effects can be manifested through various measurable performance indicators. An organizational structure that employees find easily adaptable provides an opportunity for business organizations to grow. Among the most common effects of organizational structure on human behavior are internal communications, effectiveness, and efficiency. Also, employee morale is closely related to organizational structure (Types of Organizational Structures, 2013).
A strong organizational structure determines the morale of employees. They exhibit loyalty and motivation in their work when they engage in challenging tasks, are treated respectfully, and are given a chance to advance their career. Organizational structure can also lead to adverse effects among the employees. For example, if organizations continually raise the salaries of senior employees while ignoring those of the junior ones, this leads to loss of morale among the junior employees. The organizational structure, therefore, plays a vital role in determining employee morale since it determines the management of advancement, incentive programs, and discipline.
Another relationship between organizational structure and human behavior touches on internal communication. The organizational structure affects how departments and employees communicate. For instance, rigid structures do not give employees enough freedom to get the information they want or personnel required to execute specific duties. On the other hand, an organizational structure that is too flexible can give rise to an ineffective chain of command. This is because employees would find it challenging to identify the right people who are supposed to address their concerns. A functional organizational structure should balance the importance of flexibility with the need for elaborate lines of command.
Types of Organizational Structures
There are different organizational structures that organizations can adapt depending on the size and nature of the business. Specific organizational structures can elicit predictable attitudes and motivations among employees. For example, some organizations use traditional structures that focus on the functional departments and divisions of an organization. Examples of conventional organizational structures include line structure, functional structure, and line and staff structure. Traditional organizational structure elicits predictable attitudes and motivations among employees because of the following reasons (Madura, 2007).
The first reason is that it does not have many lines of command since employees are answerable to only the top managers of an organization. There is an open communication channel where employees experience one-on-one contact with senior executives. When employees are allowed to interact with top executives, this creates predictable attitudes and increases their motivation level.
The second reason is that the traditional organizational structure allows employees to make decisions. As a result, they have a feeling that they are recognized and that the organization values them. Employees who get a chance to make decisions feel trusted, and this increases their motivation and prompts them to do better for the benefit of the organizations they work for.
The other type of organizational structure that can elicit predictable attitudes and motivation among employees is a functional organizational structure. To begin with, the structure values skill development among employees through the provision of a favorable working atmosphere. Employees who perform similar tasks are grouped, allowing those with lesser skills to learn from those with experience. As a result, this organizational structure motivates employees by ensuring that they develop relevant skills. The other way through which functional organizational structure creates predictable attitudes and motivation among employees is through quick decision making. When employees have issues that need to be addressed by the management, decisions are made without delays, and this motivates them to put more effort into their work (Burns & Stalker, 2010).
Google Inc applies a traditional organizational structure that encourages employees to work directly with their managers. The company has an open communication structure that does not require employees to follow long formal channels. This, to a great extent, enhances the organizational structure of the company. The structure aims at making the employees feel that they are valued, and their contribution to the company is essential. Contrary to what most companies do, Google Inc does not set goals for its employees but allows them to work towards goals they have determined to be achievable. Leaders and managers are only treated as facilitators and people whose purpose is to inspire employees and help them perform their duties effectively. The organizational structure of Google is among the most flexible ones and elicits predictable attitudes and motivation among employees.
Organizational structures are critical because they enable organizations to operate in a positive manner. The choice of the best fabric to apply is determined by the size of the organization and the nature of the business conducted. For instance, organizational structures that are taller mostly fit large organizations. This is because several management levels characterize them. Decision-making processes involve assigning projects and duties to subordinates, who exercise full responsibility for tasks assigned to them. The top management determines what they need to implement; hence they bring all subordinates on board to ensure that organizational objectives are met. Smaller organizations are advised not always to wait for managers to make decisions before specific tasks are completed to enhance their effectiveness. As a result, small organizations that are still growing should adopt flat organizational structures where decisions can be made quickly by both managers and the employees.
The long-term goals of an organization are also another determinant of the choice of organizational structure. An organization that would like to make all decisions adopts a different organizational structure from another organization that believes in delegating authority to the employees. Authoritative organizations apply a horizontal organizational structure, which has limited hierarchical levels. However, as they grow, they might find it necessary to delegate some of the minor tasks to junior employees (Organizational Culture and Changing Culture, 2000).
Finally, the choice of organizational structure by organizations might be informed by the technology used. For instance, organizations with automated operations might decide to have decentralized authority because the use of computer systems can do the monitoring of employees. Organizational structures, therefore, vary from organization to organization, depending on the factors mentioned above.
Burns, T., & Stalker, G. (2010). Mechanistic vs Organic Organizational Structure. Web.
Madura, J. (2007). Introduction to Business. New York: Cengage Learning.
Organizational Culture and Changing Culture. (2000). Web.
Types of Organizational Structures. (2013). Web.