How do I redesign my business structure?
May 28, 2009 7:35 AM   Subscribe

I am attempting to reorganize the structure of my business and was wondering if anyone had experience with this or could direct me to some templates.

I own a small company that has 11 employees. There has never been a formal organizational structure to my business. Job descriptions are non-existent and each employee's role overlaps with other employees and there is no real chain of command. Everything flows through me (the executive) and I'm overloaded.

I want to pass out an employee questionnaire that will give me a feel for what people think their main tasks are, who they think they report to, what main problems they encounter, and so on. Are there any templates for such a thing, or should I design one myself? Essentially I want to have them explain to me what they think their job description currently is.

Is this the right way to start? Does anyone have any experience with this? Or can anyone lead me to some online resources about this?
posted by Tavern to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As a business owner you should be the one telling your employees what their jobs are. It sounds like you need to take a step beck as define your business needs first, then figure out how to best utilize your employees. After you have done that you can interview each employee and figure out who is best for/wants more of a leadership role.
posted by Vaike at 8:33 AM on May 28, 2009

Actually, it sounds like the employees have slipped into roles suited to their skills and/or to fill gaps where there was no-one to perform the task, and the overlap may be to compensate in areas where the manpower resources are lacking. Sort of everyone working as a team to get the job done, helping-out where required. I may be wrong, but that's what I get from the question.

As the owner, of a small business, it's fairly safe to assume you know what your business and employees do, and that also is reflected in the question. My interpretation is that the overlaps are the issue. Address those, by hiring additional people if necessary, and the roles of everyone should be clearer I think.

Or, you could hire a supervisor. They report to him, he keeps them in line and delegates the responsibilities, leaving you to run the business side of things.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:11 AM on May 28, 2009

You may not like the answers you get. Instead, I would ask the employees to write down whatever they feel their strengths are and what skills or tasks they would be interested in learning or taking responsibility for. Then create a "mission statement" letting everyone know what everyone's job responsibilities are, and then you can begin delegating tasks to them to take some of the load off of you. Sounds like you could also use an "right-hand" person, maybe a "assistant manager" or "team leader" or "coordinator". Most people want to know (1) what do you expect of me? and (2) who do I have to report to.

On a side note, there are various survey websites out there (google "Survey Monkey") that could be used to gather information via questionaires over the web.
posted by momzilla at 9:15 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do you have money to spend on this exercise? This is the kind of thing that management consultants are good for. Big name firms like Mercer, Bain and McKinsey can do this, of course, but there are certainly smaller local consultants who can do the same for less money. Perhaps this organization can lead you to the right consultant.

An outside consultant coming in to interview your employees will certainly freak people out ala the movie Office Space, but I think your in-house questionnaire may do the same anyway. With an outside consultant, you will end up with a thoughtful solution to your problem from an unbiased third party. You don't have to use that solution, or 100% of it, but I think it would be helpful to have.

Another firm that comes to mind is Korn/Ferry. They are known as an executive recruiter, but I have experience with their talent assessment service. The investment firm I work for will hire them to evaluate management as part of our acquisition process. Their reports are very interesting and comprehensive--they will give you a good unbiased view of an employee's strengths and weaknesses and the role she is best suited for.

Also, check out the SBA's website. They may have resources for this sort of thing. SCORE is another resource--it's an organization of retired enterpreneurs/executives who want to help/mentor business owners. I don't have experience with them, but it seems worthwhile to check out.
posted by mullacc at 9:17 AM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm well aware that I'll probably get some answers that point right back at me, and that's fine. I've admitted I'm part of the problem. The business wasn't something that was mapped out in a traditional sense. It sort of grew out of a garage and 8 years later I've got a working business on my hands with employees that have been with the company for almost the whole time.

We've done well because of our superior technical skills and good connections, but we've let a lot slip through the cracks. Now we seem to have reached a ceiling and I feel the only way to break through it is to look inward and reorganize.
posted by Tavern at 10:36 AM on May 28, 2009

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