Motivation and satisfaction

9 steps to build a flat organization talent survival guide

The changing environment demands new behavior. Leaders need to change if they want to see change,  employees must change if they want to develop, organizations must change if they want to sustain growth,  be innovative and successful. Doesn’t it sound easy?  

Then why does it not happened?  Did ask yourself why are you sending away promising potential talents and are not ready to keep them inside the organization and develop them to ensure they will develop your business.  

Maybe you think: “Because we are too small ”  or “We just can’t offer them enough space to grow” etc.  Well If you think that way then you are not far away from other owners, entrepreneurs and business leaders trying to grow business under the pressure of a highly demanding and fast-changing environment, where not size, but knowledge,  expertise and flexibility matter.  

This all comes from the old approach organizations and business environment has pushed up for so many years. Leaders with that model of thinking have always tried to explain how the vertical movement is the only way to develop and grow and the real measurement for success.  Well, these days are long gone.  Now we live in a flat organizational world.  People now don’t look for hierarchy, but to develop expertise and knowledge from a wide range of areas that will make them successful not in one, but in several roles. Building knowledge and expertise go now along with the need for the development of specific knowledge that will not only make the professional success in its current role but will be transferable to other roles within the organization.

In this world,  leaders, owners, and entrepreneurs must think differently. Size does not matter anymore. But what matters are skills,  knowledge, and expertise. In a flat company  structure you  can still build those three by following тхе неьт 9  steps:

Review your current structure and positions

You cannot start something before you have built a high ground.  That high ground here is to know where you are so that you can better plan for the future.  Start  the process by  reviewing what is your company  structure,  what are the positions and roles included

Identify  key skills for each  position

Continue with identifying what are the key skills for each role or position to say that you have utilized it and it adds real  value to your company business model.

Evaluate the level  of skills and skills shortage in your organization

This one is tuff.  You will need to honestly evaluate the level of skills that are actually used on each role and position and compare to the full set of knowledge and skills you need to say that person holding this position or role, adds real value to your company.  Make your analysis based on the knowledge and skills set you  have defined in the job description and compare the information with  the person or people holding this position at the current moment of evaluation 

Define paths for learning

After knowing where you are with the knowledge and skills, you are now ready to plan for growing knowledge and skills.  That means to start defining different paths how knowledge and a skill can be built by using the company potential.  Do not tempt to go outside first.  Searching for ways to build a specific knowledge and skills set inside the company shows that you have faith in people working with the company. For specific skills and knowledge that are not to be found inside the company  find an external  provider,  but still for all  others focus on building your company, specific paths

Start  with a small number of employees

A mistake I often see is that leaders see the gap and want to feel it as fast as they can. The wrong element with this approach is that while planning to solve the issue fast you may overheat your team.  Every person has it’s own speed and style of learning. Planning a series of training needs to happen after you have identified how much time would you need with the training, who will have to invest that time,  how will you need to compensate the person in the period of learning, etc. Without making this analysis, you can easily put the training on autopilot,  make them proforma and not reach the final result you have in mind. Instead of doing that mistake, plan a learning activity with a small group of people, on a particular topic or group of topics and search for consistent feedback, to improve the process and remove possible issues before rolling it out to the public. 

Add a reasonable amount of new skills

Every leader wants to build as many skills as possible. Maybe you think big, but what you have to learn is to act small. People are different and when you want to help them grow you can easily cause them a burnout while executing the process.  To be successful in your development initiative you need to do it in well-defined steps,  covering enough amount of information and developing skills one by one.  Combination of more than 3 skills to be developed at the same time or 2 or more areas to be covered as knowledge at the same time is not productive. Your role as a leader is to balance the process of learning giving people enough time to naturalize new knowledge and skills, but still keep them engaged and on the edge of their zone of comfort.   

Re-analyze role and position needs periodically

When you need a set of skills or an amount of knowledge your natural reaction will be to plan how to get them in a particular period of time.  But we live in a complex and fast-changing environment. 

Let’s say you need someone to learn Microsoft Excel to make you great reports. But while still learning you decide to buy a software that will make all the analyses faster and easier expecting only correct data to be added in the system.  Do you still need that person to learn the Microsoft excel software tricks and tweaks?

To be sure that you have people with relevant knowledge and skills on each role and position, you as a leader must conduct a periodical audit of the job requirements.  Not your HR Department or representative, but you. Because you and only you can define or redefine role and position needs according to the parameters of the changing environment.

Re-evaluate people every time after you have reviewed roles and positions

The step many leaders miss is to evaluate people’s potential and level of knowledge and kills right after they have reviewed the position or role.  The explanation  I get,  when I ask  Why? Is often connected with periods for evaluation.   There is no logic in evaluating roles and positions, defining changes and still wait to get input from the second element – the people.  If you wnt as a leader to have a well-trained team,  flexible and ready to meet the environment changing requirements and still stay winning team, then you will have to also check where your team is as a level of skills and knowledge needed.

Do not assume that they will learn it,  or that they don’t know it at all. Just do your check and plan the time you will need to allocate for further development.

Plan balanced development

Today more and more, people learn while practicing things, but still, we all need some time to react on new knowledge and for our reaction to it as a set of skill through activities we are responsible for.  I have seen both –  people learning in an isolated environment and people learning only through practicing.

There is no right or wrong way,  but leaders need people not only to build new skills but also finish current work.  Except if you don’t have people who can totally replace the learning person, you will need to plan the time for learning so to ensure that the employees will learn and still the ongoing work will be done, according to schedule and delivering acceptable results.  As a leader you will need to be in charge of the process of creating employee development and learning plan so,  that you can balance between learning and working without causing overheating or burnout.


Development exists within all environments.  The new reality has changed organizational structures and expectations.  People now grow more as widely developed experts then as vertically developed professionally in a particular area.  The management of complex structures is now replaced by leadership in complex processes.  If leaders want to make an impact in this new environment and still lead exceptional teams they will need to change the mindset and start building wide expertise with transferable skills from one area to another.

Are you ready to be one of those new leaders of change?


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