org structure for small partnership


 Hi all,

I've been addicted to MT for about 2 months now, listening to the Basics casts, and have been implementing o3's and positive feedback with select team members.  In doing so, I've become more aware of a structural problem in my company.

We are a partnership of two owners, with a total of 8 people.  We provide I.T. support to small and medium-sized businesses.  Our staff consists of:

me (CEO)

my partner (CTO)

4 technical consultants: 1 senior, 1 junior, 2 mid-range

office manager

sales guy

I've been reading Drucker to figure out what a CEO "does," and have landed on my greatest strength being a person who inspires trust in others and is a patient teacher; in short, I excel at relationships.  Thus I see my effective role as one who helps move the company towards its goals by helping the staff excel at their positions (via o3's and feedback) and develop personally & professionally (via delegation and coaching) within the roles that the company needs filled.  I've been really excited about starting o3's and have been enjoying them for a couple weeks now.

My partner, our CTO, also likes being in touch with the staff.  He has a much less structured management style and likes to say that he doesn't care if other people like him or not.  In my opinion he’s not as good as me at pushing large projects to completion, but he’s better than me at getting smaller things done fast and effectively. As a very smart engineer and businessman, he seems to inspire the trust and camaraderie of the technical staff, who of course are critical to our mission.

Because of our small size, and because both me and my partner like being in touch with the staff (it has a more family-type feel), our structure is matrix-like.  However, you know the problems that leads to: I give a project to our junior tech and tell him to prioritize it because it relates to customer service or profitability targets; the next day my partner does the same with another project which relates to technical delivery goals.  Or, I do a o3 with the junior guy and find out that he has worked on my project but suddenly has a reporting deadline on it to my partner, who is also interested in the outcome and isn't conducting o3's.  

If I had my druthers, I would verticalize the company by assuming direct supervision of the people who are closest to my concerns, which is meeting operational goals, providing great customer service, and implementing more profitable service delivery strategies.  Those people would be: our office manager, senior consultant, and junior consultant.  Possibly the sales guy too.  

However, there is overlap in the roles of the senior and junior consultants: in addition to their technical roles, the senior provides PM and customer management functions; and the junior is in charge of first-line response and escalation, i.e. customer service and operational deadlines.

It’s that overlap which makes me hesitate in just assuming the senior and junior consultants as my directs.

Any suggestions?



Don't sweat it

When you're that small, two things are true:  everyone knows what's going on, so formal structures are less important.  And, it will change dramatically as you grow.  

Think now about what you want the org to look like after you've grown to your next stage, and start hiring/coaching/planning for that level of business.

In general, professional services firms have the billable and non-billable in separate reporting structures (except secretarial/admin staff). 

John Hack