A management team can help you to organise your business in a more efficient way. With a formal structure in place, everyone knows who’s responsible for what, and employees have clarity on who they should report to in different situations. What’s more, as a business owner, more staff means more scope to delegate, helping you to free up some of your precious time to focus on the big decisions. With the right management structure, you can delegate safe in the knowledge that your business will run smoothly.
So what form should your management structure take? Here, we’ll outline a range of models to help you identify what’s likely to be a good fit in your particular business.
What is a management model?
A manager typically decides what work needs to be done, divides the work into manageable activities, allocates tasks to individuals, monitors progress, addresses issues as and when they arise, and provides support to team members. A ‘management model’ describes how, and under what type of framework, the work of management gets done.
Your model will help define what level of responsibility and independence to give to individuals within the business. It can also help to tie different parts of the business together to ensure that everyone’s working towards the same goals. Especially relevant to startups, your management model need not be cast in stone: if your business currently consists of a close-knit team of individuals for instance, the best way of organising everyone at this stage might look very different to a year or so in the future when you take on a larger number of junior staff.
The right management model can be determined by the type of work you’re involved in, the size of your business at present and the level of skills and experience of team members. Just as important, it’s your business: you should feel comfortable with the level of managerial responsibility you delegate, and your model shouldn’t make you feel as if you’re losing control. With that in mind, here’s a selection of management models and how they can work in different types of situations.
The flat model
The ‘flat’ management model describes the situation where there are very few layers of management between the most junior employee and the chief decision maker. In its early days, a business might consist of the owner and one or two junior assistants, and these employees are managed directly by the business proprietor. Further down the line, the owner takes on more staff and also hires a ‘general manager’. Routine task allocation, checking employees’ work, and providing support to the team now becomes the responsibility of the general manager who reports directly to the owner. Both of these are examples of flat management.
This is a very simple management team model and is often all that’s needed to manage a micro-business of 20 people or less. Even when their business grows much bigger, some entrepreneurs prefer this way of working; not least because fewer layers of management can lead to quicker decision making. This type of management can also appeal to business owners who have a very definite vision of what they want to achieve and who want to keep in close contact with staff right across the organisation.
The functional or departmental model
If your workforce consists of individuals doing very different jobs with distinct skillsets, you could arrange your management structure according to separate departments (for instance, manufacturing, warehouse, customer service, and accounts). Ideally, the manager for each department will have specialist knowledge in the relevant area along with the experience required to provide support and motivation to the individuals within their department. Those department heads then report directly to you. In the very early days, your workforce might be too small to support different departments, but as you grow, this type of management model might be the next logical step away from a ‘flat’ structure.
The project management model
If your work is largely project based, the focus is squarely on getting those projects completed on time and on brief. You should structure your management model to reflect this. The project manager might be responsible not just for members of your own staff who are involved in the specific job, but also outside contractors. You might want to set up project management models on an ad-hoc basis: for instance, when there isn’t a specific project in the pipeline you could have a core ‘flat’ model in place, but when a project comes in you could appoint a project leader for the duration of the job.
Ultimately, your management model should enable team members to develop positive, supportive relationships, and enable your business to meet its goals. For further tips on management and the importance of leadership, head over to our help centre.