“There is no course that I’m aware of, graduate or undergraduate, in HR in any of the universities in Australia that actually teach people how to do effective organisational design. So it’s no surprise that it often gets missed.”
Businesses where there is no direct link between the way the organisation is structured and the business strategy make it impossible for HR to have a strategic impact, he said.
“It’s almost impossible to do anything that has strategic impact because there’s no alignment in the organisation. That means you can’t manage performance effectively, you can’t do leadership development effectively, you can’t do employee engagement effectively, you can’t do diversity and inclusion effectively.”
Without that strategic alignment, everything else will be “a series of loosely-related initiatives that will disrupt the business”, said Johnson.
“But if you can, you can determine the right number of levels in the organisation, you can determine the relationship between the levels and importantly, what roles and processes are required in the business.
“What most organisations suffer from, which I believe is the number one cause for disengagement, is too many levels and too many roles at each level and therefore how it appears from a worker’s point of view, regardless of sector, is that you’ve got a bureaucratic system, it appears that you’re being micromanaged and you don’t have autonomy. It appears as though you can’t take qualified risks.
“What happens is that you get a system that isn’t conducive to bringing out the best in people. In fact, it develops a system where people know that in order to make the system work, you’ve got to constantly do workarounds. And that’s most people’s experience at work.”
He said a lack of alignment between organisational design and business strategy was a global problem, but some organisations were beginning to recognise it.
Is your organisation effectively designed?
Having an effective organisational design is a crucial part of making sure that HR has the right impact on a business, but it’s often overlooked, according to Transfirmation Partners managing director Steve Johnson.