Organizational Problems in the Workplace

Organizational problems cause unnecessary work for employees.

Organizational problems cause unnecessary work for employees.

From time to time, you might work at a company that has a great product or service, helpful managers and a group of coworkers you love working with, but your job still stresses you out. A common problem at many companies with otherwise positive working conditions is the way the company is organized -- or not organized. Understanding different organizational problems you might encounter during your career can help you spot problems at your company, make suggestions to help solve the problem or keep your head down and work around the confusion.

No Formal Structure

If you work at a small company, the business might have no formal organization chart. Org charts show who holds what position, who reports to whom and what each person’s job responsibilities are. Several favorite employees might report directly to the boss, taking assignments and then telling coworkers they are part of a new project. If you’re not in management, it’s probably not a good idea to suggest that the company get better organized, but you can start quietly putting a bug in people’s ears by asking questions about your situation. Tell your manager you’re eager to do a good job and would like an annual review, with a written job description on which the review will be based. Ask whom you report to besides your main manager, or if you work for only one person. When other managers come to you with work, tell them you’ll be happy to take on the task if it’s OK with your boss. This might make them stop and question who is managing whom and if there needs to be more organization.

No Job Descriptions

If you don’t think you’ll be able to get company management to start thinking about an organization chart, at least get a written job description for your position. Companies that don’t provide written job descriptions for each position lack organization because not only do important projects fall through the cracks, employees don’t even know who should be doing them. A written job description also prevents managers from dumping excess work on you because your job description is “everything” or “whatever.” If you work in marketing and the sales director tells you he wants you to send out contracts to clients, you can tell her you’re concerned that this isn’t part of your written job description and you might get in hot water with your manager. Tell her you’ll be happy to do the contracts if she gets an OK with you manager. This might be all it takes for her to look for someone else to dump her grunt work on. If a manager comes to you and asks you why you haven’t been doing a specific work task, you can say, “I didn’t know I was supposed to. Here’s the written job description Lisa gave me, and it’s not in here.”

Poor Communication

Even when a company has an organization chart, department heads, a totem pole and job descriptions, if each department works in its own cocoon, the workplace becomes disorganized. If projects don’t have written instructions, mandated outcomes and specific deadlines, workers get confused, turn in poor work or don’t get tasks done on time. Management should call a weekly meeting of department heads to keep everyone apprised as to how each department’s progress is affecting the others’. If you are creating work that will be used by another department, learn who your peer is in that department and work directly with her, rather than simply giving your work to your manager. Your boss might be bogged down with many other tasks and not understand your work as well as you and your intra-departmental peer do.

No Clear Growth Path

If a business doesn’t have an organization chart, it might not have a plan for fairly and effectively promoting employees. This can lead to reactive hiring and promotions, rather than planned employee growth up the management ladder. A staff member should know what it takes to become a department coordinator. A coordinator should understand what skills she needs to become a manager one day. Managers should know if they need training, certification or other skills to become directors. Poor employee succession planning leads to frustration, low morale, accusations of unfairness and staff turnover.

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About the Author

Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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