Principles of Developing an Organizational Structure

The first job of organizing is to develop a structure. This is where the leader groups related work and workers together. A number of proven principles should be used in the development of structure. Many of these and the next set of principles have been taken from Olan Hendrix.

Principle of maximum span

This is also sometimes called the span of control. It simply means that as a general rule, the maximum number of workers a supervisor can oversee is about five to eight. This will depend on the type of work, the ability of the supervisor, the geographical dispersal of the personnel, and the other duties of the supervisor. It is felt that the greater a leader’s personal contact with subordinates, the more effective the leader’s direction and leadership will be. The supervision of a small group will give a leader the opportunity to get to know his workers and to show concern and love for them and to help to develop them as individuals.

The church staff member with duties of his own to perform will be able to supervise fewer persons than an office manager whose primary duty is to supervise the work of an office staff. The senior pastor who tries to hold on to all the details will violate this, as he probably wants everybody reporting directly to him, and wants to approve everything. People should not attempt to direct people who are not under their span of control. An organizational chart where this is violated will be short and squatty.

Principle of minimum levels

These first two are closely related. The first warns against putting too many people directly under one supervisor, and the second principle warns against putting too few people under a supervisor. Violation of this principle results in too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Organizational structure can become top heavy. If there are levels with a supervisor over only one or two people, perhaps the structure needs restructuring. An organizational chart where this is violated will be tall and lean.

Principle of single reporting relationships

Every person in an organization deserves to be bossed by one person. If a worker is made responsible to a committee, it produces a mess. A church janitor has the worst job in the world, because everybody in the church tries to tell him what to do. It is hard enough for a worker to please one supervisor, without trying to please a group. More than one boss means more than one set of rules, priorities, and deadlines. Churches with a Christian Day School seem to have a very difficult time with this, especially with a youth pastor teaching in the day school and reporting to the school principal and also reporting to the senior pastor.

Principle of specialization

The work assigned to individuals should be specialized as much as possible. Specialization is the key to the success of assembly lines, and can also contribute to success in any other organization. The more specialized the work is, the more skilled the person is apt to become. Specialization can be in many different categories. If the work becomes extremely specialized, the worker may need very little training and may become bored with doing the same task over and over.

Principle of line and staff

Line positions direct the work of others and have direct responsibility for accomplishing the basic goals of the organization. Line positions give orders. They select the best alternative from the alternatives suggested and carry it out. Staff positions advise and assist the line positions. They gather and analyze information and make suggestions. Staff positions may be personal (assistant pastor or administrative assistant) or specialist (business director or music director).

Churches have a problem sometimes deciding if a position is a line or staff position, as in the case of a music position and a youth position. Churches also have a problem with a staff position, like a business administrator, controlling a line position, like a youth pastor in budget areas. Sometimes a staff position may become a line position, where an administrative assistant is placed over a section of his superior’s work.

Principle of adaptation

Organizations must accept and adapt to continuously changing conditions. People change, environments change, and the demands upon an organization are constantly changing. If an organization structure becomes set and resists any change, the organization will soon be in trouble.

Principle of perpetuation

An organization will seek to perpetuate its existence long after it is needed. There must be a constant evaluation of basic purpose or objective. If conditions have altered the need, then the organization should be dissolved. It takes wise leadership to dissolve an organization, because an organization will resist this. Sometimes an organization can effectively stay alive by changing its purpose, but this needs to be recognized for what it is.

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