The rise of the team based organizational structure
Engagement 4 minute read

The rise of the team based organizational structure

Julie Bevacqua | January 10, 2019

Collaboration is essential to any successful team. Designing the work environment around teams empowers employees to do their best work, both independently and together. 

As much as a people-focused strategy is vital to engagement and performance, a collaborative approach to working is fundamental to problem-solving and driving progress. Companies are realizing that top-down, formal reporting hierarchies and silo-based organizational models are anathema to innovation and growth—especially as the Millennial segment of the workforce swells to record numbers.

The rapidly-expanding Millennial cohort is seeking an integrated digital work experience that helps them share information freely and transparently. As organizations discover that the traditional hierarchical model is not up to the task, they’re striving to realign their structures to meet the expectations of an evolving workforce—the team-based organizational structure.

Teams for the win

Networks of teams are the future. Transparency. Collaboration. Free flow of information. These are the pillars of the new team-centric organizational structure. Forward-thinking organizations are redesigning the way people work, removing the barriers to expedient and transparent knowledge- sharing and collaboration across departments and the enterprise as a whole. By designing the work environment around teams, employees are empowered, problem-solving improves, and productivity increases.

A recent report by Deloitte remarked on the value of “establishing dynamic networks of empowered teams that communicate and coordinate activities in unique, powerful—and digital—ways.” A 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review concurred, suggesting that collaboration is taking over the workplace. Teamwork is key to success, as business becomes increasingly global and cross-functional, silos break down, and connectivity increases. Indeed, time spent by managers and employees working collaboratively has increased by more than 50 percent over the past two decades.

The goal of successful companies should be to increase organizational flexibility and capitalize on their teams’ collective intelligence while simplifying the way people work together. By giving small groups the freedom to experiment and encouraging everyone to share what they learn across the organization, team-based organizations can leverage best practices while building trust and community.

Case in point, Google’s quest to build the perfect team highlighted research that demonstrated that people working in teams tend to innovate faster, achieve better results, and report higher job satisfaction. They also found that profitability is positively correlated with collaboration. By adopting a flatter, team-based organizational structure, companies can share information rapidly to increase responsiveness, solve problems faster, and improve customer service—and ultimately boost the bottom line.

Teams in action

According to a 2016 Deloitte study, 38 percent of companies and 24 percent of large companies (>50,000 employees) have moved away from traditional functional structures towards dynamic networks of teams. This new organizational model is making waves across the enterprise, driving changes in job roles and responsibilities, redesigning how goals are set and how people are rewarded, and changing the role of leaders.

As they strive to build strong organizational ecosystems and networks, companies must often discard entrenched legacy practices, systems, and behaviours holding them back in order to embrace a redesign that acknowledges and supports both the natural way humans work and the impact of the digital revolution. Online HR platforms are automating everything from onboarding to payroll while enabling employees to interact with HR apps and company resources from their mobile devices. Similarly, collaboration tools—such as Slack, Trello, Asana, Google Team Drives, and Basecamp—are helping to facilitate the transition to teams. In fact, 73 percent of companies are experimenting with such tools to enable the free flow of information and feedback throughout the network.

The modern organizational structure—a network of teams—is designed for speed, agility, and adaptability. Teams must be fluid, able to form and disband as projects and goals dictate. And the sharing of information and knowledge must be free-flowing and rapid. This cooperative, collaborative organizational model is the model of the future—and will quickly separate the high-performers from the laggards.

Get more insight into how HR professionals are redefining teamwork, engagement, and leadership by downloading our ebook, The Future of People Management in the Digital Age, Part 1.

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