4 Steps to Transforming into a “Bottom-Up” Organization

Your company has always been run as a top-down organization, but now you are ready for a change. You may have noticed that the traditional emphasis on hierarchy has slowed your ability to change strategy on the fly. Or you might be finding that your employees no longer buy into the vision of your company. So how do you go about changing a top-down company into a “bottom-up” company? Here are 4 Steps to Transforming into a “Bottom-Up” Organization:

Step 1: Start with small “wins”

The first step is to develop a few quick wins that can showcase the viability of this strategy. The goal here is to get immediate employee buy-in for your strategy and to convince them that you are really serious about doing away with the rigid hierarchy. As a result, one first step for many companies is simply creating the online equivalent of an anonymous suggestion box. Employees at all rungs of the organization – not just at the top – should feel empowered to add their ideas and suggestions.

Step 2: Change the way you hire talent

The next step is to make changes in the way the company hires and retains talent. This is not just about bringing in young millennial managers who can shake things up and provide “new blood” at the top. It’s also about hiring people from non-traditional industries and sectors with new ways of thinking about business.

The automotive and manufacturing companies of the Midwest have started to do a fantastic job of this. What they have found is that young millennials typically have very little interest in traditional manufacturing jobs. Now they are busy re-inventing these jobs as technology careers where employees can learn about cutting-edge topics like robotics and the Internet of Things. Instead of just hiring long-time veterans with traditional manufacturing backgrounds, these companies are now looking to recruit candidates from fields like technology and STEM-related fields.

Step 3: Create departments with autonomy

Another step that can help to transform a top-down company is spinning off units or departments of the company one at a time. Doing this gives those departments a sense of autonomy and permission to “think different” in how they work. These new units need to be insulated from the traditional way of doing business, according to consulting companies. For example, if your digital marketing team has to have every new idea or concept approved by a senior executive, then there is absolutely no way that it can execute brilliant campaigns geared to the needs and desires of the marketplace. They need to have permission to act without “corporate” getting in the way.

Step 4: Encourage a new organizational style

The last step is to change the physical structure of the company itself to encourage a flat organizational style. In other words, make the physical office resemble the org chart you’ve jotted down on paper. Open plan offices are all the rage right now. The idea behind these open plans is that employees will be encouraged to interact if they are sitting next to each other, rather than hiding in their corner offices or cubicles down the hall.

Of course, this is not to say that every top-down company should automatically become a bottom-up company. Think of Apple, for example. You could argue that Steve Jobs was one of the most brilliant and autocratic leaders ever in the history of Corporate America. Yet, his company became one of the most innovative companies, too, with the latest technologies.

The long-term trend, though, is for organizations to become flatter and less hierarchical. So, if you are thinking of transforming a top-down organization into a bottom-up organization, think of all the intermediary steps that need to be taken. You can’t change a corporate culture overnight… But by getting a few quick wins and changing the way you hire, you can ultimately transform your company into a lean and agile bottom-up organization.

Don’t know where to start? Let us help. We know what it takes to restrategize or restructure key points in your business, to get you hitting your goals. Click here to get started.

“You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.”

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