Managing the Structure-Thirsty Employee

Do you have Structure as one of your top rated workplace values? If so, read on. Those who value Structure seek clarity. Our next trait is demonstrated by the employees who seek a defined role, a defined desired outcome and the rules by which to play. Consistency, predictability and repetition exemplify order and progress.

How to Spot Someone With Structure:

  • Someone who values structure, enjoys regular, scheduled meetings and/or travel.
  • Those who value structure, do not like when rules or remits are changed without warning.
  • A structure focused person prefers to create processes and workflows to keep work organized.
  • Someone who values structure may want to create parameters if none exist.

Chances are you have more than a few of these types within your walls. Are there ways in which we can help the structured employee thrive in our organizations? Absolutely.

Managing employees within this category require more than a just a job title, but that’s not a bad place to start… 

Manager, Coordinator, Director, Supervisor

Even if seen arbitrary by you, the smallest declaration, nomination or definition can mean everything to the ones who value Structure. A job title, a defined role, a task list, a timetable, an agenda. All nuggets of specificity allowing the brain to synthesize and organize what it means to ‘work.’ If you want an employee who values structure to thrive, give them the title and responsibility to do so.

“People often think equality is a natural state that doesn’t have to be managed, but it does,” Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Larissa Tiedens says. “It’s harder for people to understand and learn an egalitarian structure. So you need more clarity in other structural variables, like really clear job titles, for instance.”

 

Management tip:  Define what success looks like within the role. Create explicit guidelines, procedures and a specific example of what a “win” looks like for that job can spike productivity and motivation. Use tangible KPIs and a system that can chart success.

Check Boxes

Employees who score high on the Structure spectrum will hit deadlines. Expect procedure to be followed, guidelines accepted and goals completed. A Structure employee can revel in the straight-lined workday in a mid-size sales department, knowing if the boxes are checked, work can be left knowing the day was successful. Structured employees like to know what is on the docket when they arrive at 8am sharp. 

At 42%, ‘clearly defined goals and expectations’ tied for the top attribute of a perfect boss in the eyes of Generation X. However, only 51% of companies even attempt to develop aligned goals, and, among these, only 6% regularly revisit them. 

Management tip: Whether written out on the company wiki, in a memo, email, or verbalized in a short meeting, letting the Structured employee in on the method behind the madness can be the lucidity they need to be able to chunk out their day. Stand-ups early in the day, a weekly memo and checklists are all excellent ways to manage the structured employee.

Where it can also work 

Industry tidbit: Zappos implements a radical approach to management called “holacracy.” The new system replaces the conventional command-and-control workplace with a series of self-governed teams, known as “circles.” The effort is supposed to speed decision-making, share authority and help the organization become more innovative. 

This free-for-all autonomy work culture may may not be the right fit, but doesn’t have to be taken out of the running automatically. Fit depends on how the structured person is able to define the definition-less roles. 

Structure employee can walk into a flat, autonomous Zappo-esque shop with sliding dynamic roles and structure. Maybe it’s developing processes where previously null or perhaps they might oversee the splitting off departments and people into places where potential can be better realized. Either way, if there is no structure, they will create it. Make it easy for them to do so. Or if you are in a flat organization, find a place for them to use their structure value that aren’t hierarchically based. 

Management tip: Mix a structured player with a creative team. Watch innovative and original work come across the desk, on-time. Keep in mind that the structured employee doesn’t need to be the boss per se, but simply be able to create parameters for the team.

Building Blocks

Preach that you’re a free-thinker, yet an ulcer ensues when plans change? You may consist of more Structure than you realize. Vitru’s free work value assessments unearth the bricks we are built by. Use the Vitru Platform to give structure to your development and management.

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