An organizational structure identifies company decision-makers and determines how employees at all levels relate to and communicate with each other. Some organizational structures are rigid and hierarchical, while others are far less formal and have fewer divisions of separation. Although organizational structure training isn’t something every business provides, including it can improve relationships and lead to more efficient business communications.

Implications of an Organizational Structure

Organizational structures can be hierarchical or organic in nature. Both categories include variations that differ in complexity, formality, participation and communication. It’s not the structure itself that makes training important, however, but rather how the chosen structure and its characteristics -- especially participation and communication -- impact the business. Hierarchical structures, for example, have high levels of horizontal separation and well-defined lines of control. Decisions come from the business owner or top-level managers, and communications generally follow a top-down flow. Organic structures follow a more team-oriented approach. Low levels of horizontal separation and blurred lines of control mean communications flow from virtually every direction.

A Case for Training

A firm understanding of the chosen organizational structure and its characteristics is as important for employees as it is for the management team. Managers must learn to work within the organizational structure to ensure each department is productive and efficient. Training helps managers understand what options and methods are available for communicating the company vision. Training helps employees not only understand the company’s communication flow, but also how their individual roles fit within and help fulfill the company vision.

Developing a Curriculum

Training includes, but goes far beyond, creating an organizational chart. Although a chart is helpful as a quick reference tool, it only describes the “what” of the organizational structure and not the “why” or “how.” Training will be more effective if it also includes summary information such as a job description, skills requirements, goals and expectations for each position within the company. It is also crucial to identify company decision-makers and provide a graphical illustration showing who reports to who in each level of the organizational structure.

Delivering Organizational Structure Training

Time and business needs will ultimately determine the training delivery method that best suits the business. This is one area, however, where computer-based learning can be a time- and cost-saving method for delivering quality training. Slideshow presentations, matching games and multiple-choice questions can be used to present the training information. Computer-based training can allow the business to provide training without compromising productivity by setting it up so employees can work at their own pace on a 24-hour-a-day basis.