Many successful companies today are getting away from creating a hierarchy based on position, title and reporting structure. You may think this innovative approach at organizational redesign is a creative way at leveling the employee population and maintaining the focus on the work and not on individual contributions. As much as this seems like a noble response to making sure all employees are created equal, what it may actually do is create an environment where people are not sure what they are doing, what the goal is and how to get there?
Yes money and title are important factors but ask any creative or entrepreneurial person and they’ll tell you the work is sometimes even more important. Whatever side of the fence you are on it’s important to know the culture, environment and expectation of the job for which you are applying. Not every work environment is right for everyone. It’s like any long-term committed relationship you have to know what you are walking into before you sign on the dotted line. It’s not like you are signing your life away, but you are making a commitment to change the way you behave and the expectations of what you receive from your job the same way you would a relationship.
So how do you address title, compensation and reporting ambiguity in an otherwise exciting and dynamic company? The leaders of your organization may not be ready or equipped with handling any recommendations if it means altering the delicate balance of the eco-system they have created. You can inquire as to how the organization will work if there is uncertainty about where and whom a team should report but pushing your agenda if you are not comfortable with the structure will likely alienate you rather than ingratiate you with the powers that be.
Organizations who thrive on a “leveled” organization attempt to blur the lines of what is historically an accepted way of doing business, title, reporting, etc. in an attempt to redefine the culture based on the work and not on the individual. It may seem very socialist in theory but what companies in this space are attempting to do is to redefine the emphasis of work on strategy and planning to charge to the finish line. I have seen this culture work in many start up organizations, technology companies and creative environments. You have to be a very adept leader to pull this off and to keep the staff and employees motivated and enthused.
When it comes to researching the type of environment that is best suited for you, consider that leaving a more structured hierarchical environment for a all out free for all may not be in your best interest if you are use to a more structured work style. I’m not advocating one environment works over another but it really does come down to an individual choice and what will work for you and for your family. When you go out to search for your next job, remember all employees are NOT created equal and in order to find your place it’s a good idea to ask questions about the corporate culture and work environment before you say yes to the offer.
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