Too many cooks in your credit union’s kitchen?

Why flattening your org chart may raise your succession game

Many industries are experiencing an interesting shift toward flatter organizational structures. The financial services sector is no exception. With fewer levels of hierarchy, the thinking goes, there is more room for autonomy. This creates space for employees to rely less on supervisors and more on their training when making day-to-day decisions.

The need to make those decisions faster is among the varied reasons organizations are flattening their org charts. Too many cooks in the kitchen typically overcomplicates choices. Over time, unnecessary complexity can create a culture of micromanagement and mistrust—not exactly the kind of environment that attracts top talent, nor supports a strong leadership continuity plan.

Indeed, today’s up-and-coming leaders seem to prefer greater autonomy at work. It’s no wonder. Autonomy leads to feelings of being valued, greater happiness and engagement. What’s more, it often motivates employees to go out and learn how to do something they may not already know how to do. In other words, autonomy shapes workers into leaders—making it much easier to develop an attainable succession plan.

Another reason credit unions may be making the shift to flatter structures is to manage the necessary connections between a growing number of products, services, channels and experiences. Members expect credit unions to meet them where they are, enabling engagement on the same product via phone, chat, in-branch or on a mobile banking site. The more internal complexity, the more difficult it is for credit unions to deliver on that expectation.


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