Structure is important, especially in organizations. I’m a strong proponent of well-defined organizational charts with clear lines of authority and responsibility. We set our employees up best when we provide the framework within which they work.
However, the downside of a well-structured organization is that it can become prone to stagnation. When employees are relegated to their corner of the organizational world with little opportunity to try new things, they can get stuck. As a result so does the organization.
One of the most helpful things you can do as an organizational leader is look for ways to stretch staff without completely upending the organizational chart. My favorite way to do this is by creating special teams or task forces for unconventional projects.
Years ago, I led a staff team through the implementation of a citywide Christmas event. The goal was to give a gift to our city in the form of a winter wonderland experience and Christmas concert. With just a couple of months to pull off all the details, I immediately began strategizing how our team could pull off a 4 day event with thousands of attendees while also keeping up with our regular barrage of responsibilities during the Christmas season. It was certainly a daunting thought!
Because the responsibilities involved in pulling off this event would involve many different departments, I needed to assemble a special task force of leaders from throughout the organization.
First, I made a list of key areas of responsibility that would require a leader:
- Outdoor experience
- Lobby experience
- Artist contact & booking
- First Impressions
Then I looked throughout the organization at leaders at all levels for people who excelled in each of these areas. We chose the leaders who would make up the task force and take responsibility for each area. Each leader would then be given additional staff to serve on their teams.
Once the leaders were assigned and teams were assembled, the task force team met weekly to work through details. Each member came to the weekly meeting ready to give an update on their area. Ultimately the staff pulled off an amazing event!
Here are some outcomes I’ve experienced by creating task forces for special projects or events:
You disrupt routine. When new responsibilities are added to our plates it forces us to reevaluate how we organize and spend our time. We prioritize better. We make more purposeful decisions about our schedule.
Great leaders emerge. If you see a staff person with some leadership potential, you can give them some extra responsibility on a team like this to see what they’re capable of without completing changing their job.
The hierarchy is flattened. As the organization grows it’s difficult for top leaders to see the gifts and strengths of all the staff. Our Christmas task force allowed me to see some of our staff in action that I wouldn’t otherwise see on a regular basis.
New relationships are formed. Because we involved staff from all departments, all campuses and all levels of the organization people who had never worked with one another were on teams together. It was wonderful to see new friendships formed as they worked together to accomplish a big goal.
What event or big project do you have an the horizon? Could your organization and your staff benefit from changing things up and creating a special team for it?