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Companies Rethink Organizational Structure With New Technologies

Once again, Tesla is innovating. This time it’s around organizational structure.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Tesla will restructure and flatten its management, Chief Executive Elon Musk told employees Monday, as the Silicon Valley auto maker struggles to boost production of its Model 3 sedan amid an exodus of top leaders.”

in a memo reviewed by the WSJ, Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote: “As part of the reorg, we are flattening the management structure to improve communication, combining functions where sensible and trimming activities that are not vital to the success of our mission.”

A recent Inc. magazine article argues for a different approach: leaderless teams. The author argues that different models may work when it comes to the leaderless team and engagement of younger workers.

Part of the allure of a leaderless team is the reality of how work gets done today. With an increased reliance on contract workers, people working together may not ever be physically working together. Online tools like Slack or Skype can connect labor located in far-flung locales.

Younger workers come together in highly networked ecosystems and form those systems within workplaces and work teams comprising in-person and virtual colleagues. Driven by a clarity of technological connection and a high level of trust, these teams act as a unit, making decisions collaboratively and collectively.

When teams are put together with a clear sense of teamwork and alignment, then those teams can often be seen as collective leaders, sharing ownership of projects and deliverables.

The challenge, then, is to create teams that can function without an identified leader. It is just one of many traits that are changing workplaces as newer employees, raised with technology, become a larger portion of workforces.

Here are three other key elements of the changing workplace:

1. Learning and Development

Learning and development programs must be a critical part of the business strategy and implemented throughout the employee lifecycle. Whether it’s formal leadership development programs or microlearning delivered online, companies need to determine what will serve them, and their employees best. These programs need to be seen and used as part of the employee recruitment and employee retention strategies.

Younger workers often form highly networked groups that rely on each other for deliverables and accountability.

2. Employer Brands

Potential employees need a clear idea of what a possible employer stands for. For companies, that means developing employer brands that project and educate about mission, values, culture, and outcomes.

These messages need to be delivered at the first point of engagement, whether that’s an employment website or a conversation with a hiring manager, and reinforced in interviews, offer letters, onboarding, and training programs.

3. Constant Feedback

The technology news is filled with stories of companies no longer relying on the yearly performance evaluation as the main feedback device. Today’s employees expect to receive regular and consistent feedback in the moment. These feedback loops need to be delivered by managers, certainly, but also can be provided by colleagues or work team partners via automated digital assessment platforms. These open-ended systems provide more points of feedback that help employees gauge their value and strengths and identify areas for improvement.