Employee frustrations and conflicts about getting work done are often not the result of personal differences among the people in an organization, but rather the result of misaligned, undefined or incompatible relationships between the units of the organization and leaders who are not well suited for the teams they are leading.
When designing an organization, thought needs to be given to the role that each particular unit or team plays in executing the overall mission. Just as important, each team needs clear definition in terms of what it provides to and receives from every other team. For example, is the relationship between Sales and R&D one in which Sales provides R&D with consumer feedback about the effectiveness of a product so that the product can be improved? Is the relationship between R&D and Marketing one in which R&D agrees to improve the product so that the product is more marketable? Is the relationship between Marketing and Sales one in which Marketing agrees to better uncover what drives a consumer to the product, thereby creating better advertising campaigns and supporting Sales in closing more deals? It is more important to define the living, breathing relationships, handoffs, and points of coordination between the units of an organization than it is to draw a two dimensional picture of an organization chart.
Once the relationships between teams are mapped out and agreed to, decisions need to be made about who will lead the different teams. A common mistake that many organizations make is designing a team around a particular person or leader rather than a function, product, process, geography, or the complex points of coordination necessary to make the organization work. If processes are highly dependent and integrated between teams, then a requirement for leadership might be someone who collaborates with others to solve problems. If an organization is designed to produce accurate analyses and with little room for error, then a requirement for leadership might be a person with great attention to detail. If an organization is brand new, or needs to raise its level of performance, it may not be the best time to rotate a person into a leadership position who has no experience building new teams or turning around failing operations. The people who lead the unit as well as the persons who execute the work of the unit must have the requisite experience and skills so that the organization can function effectively and efficiently. Placement decisions should be based on the design of the organization and what it needs to operate most effectively.