Malzahn Strategic - Minneapolis, MN skyline

Is Your Organization Designed for YOU to Succeed?

Is your organization designed for you to succeed

Most people I know in the workplace want to be successful; but is your organization designed for you to succeed? Organizational Design is a hot topic these days although it may be referred to as organizational structure or simply the “Org Chart.” Your career success depends mostly on you; and it also depends on the opportunities and work environment your employer offers you.

During my career’s journey as a leader and now as a consultant for community banks and credit unions across the nation, I observe each institution’s “organizational design.” It is amazing to discover that many employees are in their jobs simply because they’ve been with the organization for many years. They do whatever job the company wants/needs them to do without regards to what their talents are. Similarly, employees end up in certain jobs just because they can’t or won’t do any other job and the employer allows it because of their loyalty to long-term employees.

This situation is detrimental to both the employee and the employer. Employees who are assigned a job to do without the right talent, may feel incompetent and inadequate. On the other hand, employers may feel they are being held hostage by an employee who is not willing to learn a new job. Employers should take the responsibility to assess their talent and design their organization based on their needs matched to the talent represented in their staff. At the same time, I encourage you to take charge of your own career and thus your personal success.

Below are strategies to help you take charge of your own career and discover if your organization is designed for you to succeed:

Discover Your Talents

I strongly believe that employees must first find their talents and maximize them by using them in their jobs. Taking personal talent assessments can help you. One is the StrengthsFinder 2.0 which provides you with your top five strengths (out of 34 themes of strengths) after taking the assessment. Another option is to simply write down the things and activities that you do well and enjoy.

Learn Your Organization’s Design

Is your company’s reporting structure flat (meaning, few top leaders with lots of direct reports)? Is your organizational design multi-layer (meaning, there are so many layers from where you are to the top in any division that it may take you years to get there)? Most companies share their Org Chart on the Intranet or in their Employee Manual. You can also request it from your HR department.

Get to Know Your Boss

Does your direct manager allow you to use your talents? Is he or she involved in the everyday running of the company? Or are they distant and you hardly ever see him/her? Getting to know your direct manager is important if you want to create new opportunities or grow within your current job. Start with a recurring meeting and then build upon it, discovering who they are and what motivates them.

Be Flexible and Open

Be open to move to other jobs—even as a lateral move—just to get additional experience. Acquiring new skills and experience will help you achieve your desired promotion later. Also, be flexible as to what you get to do within your job. Sometimes doing something a little outside your job description will help you discover something new you really enjoy.

Communicate With Leadership

It is important to meet the leadership of your organization to learn about other areas. A totally different division may inspire your interest just by getting to know their leader who shared about it with you during a casual conversation. If you find yourself interested in moving to a different division, ensure you communicate with your existing boss, so they’re not caught by surprise. Most leaders want you to succeed and will open new doors for you when you have a healthy relationship.

Create Your Own Opportunities

Knowing your own talents combined with the knowledge of your organization’s design and having a relationship with your manager are all crucial to pursue new opportunities. In addition to being open to new doors that may open up along your journey, you can also create brand new opportunities. For example, if you see a need in your department and you feel you have the experience, skills, and talents to meet those needs, then go for it. Propose the new job to management. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get the job but at least you know you tried.

Is your organization designed for you to succeed? If the answer is no even after implementing all these strategies, then it may be time for you to look at other companies where you can use and maximize your talents. In the end, remember that you lead your own career.


Books by Marcia Malzahn