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POPin Blog

A Flatter Organizational Structure Can Be Flattering

Small businesses and midsize companies can benefit by flattening their management structures and bringing top management into closer contact with frontline employees. Just as flatter abs make people more attractive, a flatter “pancake” style of management can be quite flattering for many organizations. This is because flat organizations eliminate unnecessary layers of middle management that have built up between company leaders and employees. By cutting out redundant or ineffective middlemen, midsized firms and large companies can become more nimble like startup firms. As a result, leaders are enabled to make faster decisions in response to shifting market conditions and changing customer preferences. Rather than concentrating all responsibility at the top of an organizational pyramid, flat organizations push authority down into the team, giving employees greater control over decisions that directly affect their job roles. A pancake management strategy reduces bureaucracy by cutting out top-heavy tiers and extra echelons from the org chart. This kind of flatter org chart looks more like a squashed triangle than a steep pyramid, with fewer boxes for SVPs and VPs near the top and more boxes for salaried staff and hourly employees down below. The benefits of a flat organizational structure include accessing skills and knowledge from across the entire workforce, rather than only relying on the ideas of a select few leaders. This approach also reduces the number of managers and directors who must approve activities, which frees up more people to unleash greater creativity through new ideas. Flatter organizations tend to improve employee communications and morale, because people are more empowered to make their own decisions. On the flip side, some employees may end up reporting to multiple bosses after a reorg, or they might be forced to take on added functions due to the departure of specialists and middle managers. The shorter chain of command usually means that more subordinates report to a single manager. In general, small organizations or small units of larger organizations can benefit the most from flatter structures due to the reduced number of management layers, according to findings from the Small Business section of the Houston Chronicle. Flattening an org chart increases worker engagement, resulting in more satisfied employees with lower turnover rates. When people get more ownership over decisions, they tend to take more pride in their jobs, driving greater productivity. So when it comes to org charts, we say the flatter the better.