Career Development: Highly or Loosely Structured Approach

You may prefer a more structured environment…or a more loosely structured environment.  It’s a personal preference, and in all likelihood any environment will necessarily have elements of both.  Your preference, and the jobs and environments that you desire will surely have a clear influence on how you develop your career – and your skills.  In the end, you just need to know what you are doing…but how you get there is up to you. This article explores ideas for personal development that you might adopt depending on your preference for a structured versus unstructured work environment.

This is the first of a series of four articles on the subject of career development, where we explore key influencers to inform better decisions about developing your skills and capabilities in your career.  This article, Part 1 in the series, looks at the question of a Highly or Loosely Structured Approach as a preference of work style or type of work environment. Part 2 looks at Hard Skills and Soft Skills in terms of preferences and tendencies, acknowledging that you need both to succeed.  Part 3 considers Aptitude and Personality Testing as inputs for making career choices, and as influencers on career development decisions. Finally, Part 4, Stage of Career, dives into the specific career development challenges unique to early, mid, or late career stages.  

Highly Structured Environments and Approaches:

Here are some things about structure to think about as you complete your next steps in career/personal development:

  1. Large organizations – Large organizations tend to be much more structured because that structure is much of which creates, sustains, and controls the value.
  2. Centralized organizations – The more control that is exerted from the center or top of the organization, the more structure it necessarily needs to be.
  3. Consolidated industry – Such an industry has a small number of competitors that control most of the business, providing a barrier to entry and protecting existing business practices.
  4. Regulation – More regulation requires more structure in order to maintain compliance. Regulated companies need to put systems (i.e. structure) in place to reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Loosely Structured Environments and Approaches:

Here are some things about loose structure to think about:

  1. Small organizations, especially startups – The demands of the market required loose structure because flexibility and high service are needed to deliver effectively.  Startups, especially need to avoid structure as they go through the trial and error process of ‘dialing in’ what the market needs.
  2. De-centralized organizations – Localized management tends to provide more loosely structured environments.  Even larger organizations that are de-centralized can be fairly loosely structured, providing structure only in specific areas.
  3. Fragmented industry – Where there are many competitors, and it is difficult for anyone to dominate, loose structure tends to prevail.  It actually provides the basis to offer ‘high touch’, ‘high service’.
  4. Limited regulation – Less regulation leads to less structure, which is why it is favorable when greater development and advancement is desired, such as in areas like technology.

These considerations can point to specific areas where you might want to get training or build your skills.

What aspects of highly structured or loosely structured environments do you prefer?  What does that mean for your personal career development plan?

This Post is Part of the Series: Career Development

Here is a series of four articles that focus on the subject of career development.

Career Development: Highly or Loosely Structured Approach
Career Development: Hard Skills and Soft Skills
Career Development: Aptitude and Personality Testing
Career Development: Stage of Career