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A functional structure is one of the most common organizational structures. Under this structure, the organization groups employees according to a specialized or similar set of roles or tasks. While functional structures operate well in stable environments where business strategies are less inclined to changes or dynamism, the level of bureaucracy makes it difficult for organizations to respond to changes in the market quickly.
When companies use a functional organizational structure, people with similar knowledge and skills are grouped together. This makes it possible for employees to become specialists in their field. It requires a performance management system that allows for the promotion, development and visibility of individual skills within their functional area. The specialization that functional structures hone helps to bring about in-depth knowledge and skill development among the employees, and this can help you achieve your company’s functional goals.
Specialization leads to operational efficiencies and enhances productivity levels. Because of their expertise, workers with specialized skills can perform tasks quickly, efficiently and with more confidence, thus reducing the occurrence of work-related mistakes. In addition, the clear nature of the career path within the functional unit makes it possible for employees to be highly motivated to advance their careers as they move up within the hierarchy. The main goal of functional structures in organizations is to bring the entire human and informational resources together to meet the organization’s goals. This can be an ideal structure for small businesses that focus on one product or service because you can maximize performance by encouraging peer cooperation among different units at various levels of management through supervision and coordination.
Weakness: Management Issues
Communication in organizations with functional organizational structures can be rigid because of the standardized ways of operation and the high degree of formalization. This can further make the decision-making process slow and inflexible. Since it is more bureaucratic, functional units are often not accountable to each other, and poor horizontal coordination within the departments can occur. Lack of innovation and restricted views of organizational goals, along with too much focus, can affect employees’ motivation. As your company grow and you create more functional units, the level of autonomy within units might increase, making it difficult for you to coordinate all the units efficiently.
Weakness: Unit Coordination
Even though functional units often perform with a high level of efficiency, their level of cooperation with each other is sometimes compromised. Such groups may have difficulty working well with each other as they may be territorial and unwilling to cooperate. The occurrence of infighting among units may cause delays, reduced commitment due to competing interests, and wasted time, making projects fall behind schedule. This ultimately can bring down production levels overall, and the company-wide employee commitment toward meeting organizational goals.