As a leader of a growth-focused agency, you should always be looking for new ways to improve performance — and even more so in the current economic climate. One impactful way to do this is by rethinking your organizational structure.
In a year defined by unprecedented change, the agencies that have moved away from traditional hierarchical org structures have adapted better and faster than others. Traditional-model agencies are now playing catch-up, aiming for leaner, more responsive ways of working in an unpredictable world.
If you haven’t adjusted your agency’s org structure for our modern reality, it can produce significant performance gains on many fronts — beyond what you may realize is possible. But if you’re looking for best practices to help you get started, you’re missing the opportunity in front of you.
Think of your agency’s structure as a strategic asset. It should generate a differentiating operational edge, but you won’t gain a unique advantage by copying what others have done.
It’s time to break from legacy thinking and push toward new ways of reconfiguring your agency in a way that will be your own.
The Strategic Purpose Of Org Structure
When was the last time you reflected on the purpose of your agency’s organizational structure? This question is about so much more than reporting lines or whether or not you have an org chart.
The purpose of structure in an agency is to guide your people down a pathway that helps them deliver on your agency’s vision and strategy. It’s also what prevents them from going down other paths that don’t support your strategy.
When your business strategy changes, which it likely has as a result of this past year, you should realign your structure with your new objectives. That means evaluating functional areas, roles, responsibilities, team formation, and decision-making rights. If you don’t, you risk creating an operating model with improper staffing or skills for what you hope to accomplish. Or worse, if responsibilities aren’t aligned and clear, your people, or entire functional areas, can begin to work against each other.
How confident are you that your org structure is optimized to support your vision and strategy for the year to come?
Goals To Keep You Grounded
While your agency will have a unique vision and strategy, there are some common goals that every agency should aim for when thinking about a new structure — or even just for evaluating its existing structure. Consider these goals when evaluating yours:
1. Create an environment where your people can do their best work.
Certainly, that’s what your people want. As an agency leader, that’s what you should want, too. For that to happen, your people need to feel heard, valued, and have a sense of ownership over their work. They’ll need the right information, tools, and supporting resources, and so on.
2. Create an environment that makes your clients happy.
For that to happen, they need to receive their work quickly and have the flexibility to change priorities. But overall, they want to see real value from your relationship, which comes from your interactions, how you manage their work, and the outcomes it produces.
3. Create an environment that allows your agency to adapt quickly to shifts in the market.
This past year has taught us, if nothing else, the importance of agility across the entire business. Agility stems from a set of operating principles that promote continuous improvement and change. It comes from regularly assessing your strategy and operating activities, which helps you build an adaptive culture. An adaptive culture is comfortable with change, with continuous learning, and can respond quickly to unexpected events.
If you’re going through the challenge of redesigning your agency’s organizational structure, keep these three goals at the center of your work as a guide. It will help keep you focused on the purpose of your task.
For now, check out this post where I explore traditional organizational structures and how they shape our agencies.