During my time at Brandeis, mostly in my business classes, I have learned about hierarchy and organizational structure. I have learned about titles and what those mean to people. I have found that the classic organizational structure, while effective at overseeing projects, does not always treat the individual as a valued human that has equal importance to the organization. I have learned that an organization’s structure has a time and place and is hard to eliminate altogether. These systems assign pay, responsibility, and much more. They also create a workflow that divides tasks in an efficient and goal-oriented fashion.
Yet these same setups can create tension among coworkers. Competition arises, as does frustration, when somebody on a team underperforms. Yes, I have learned this in my classes, but I have also learned this by working on teams in and out of the classroom. When a leader arises, it is appreciated but creates fear that some folks may get less credit than the leader or leaders. Structures are not always equitable even when they mean that the task will get done and even get done well. Theoretically, a group project in a class can often be done by one person, but that is not the point of the project. With that, I have learned that when organizations, professors, or even social circles build structures, the end goal must not be the entire focus. It should also impact everyone involved.
When I was looking for an internship, I wanted to find a group of people that equally prioritized productivity and the people working for the company. At my initial interview, my boss described the structure of SuitUp as divisional but everyone chips in when needed. I liked that this was project-driven, which meant everyone on a team felt valued, and also that the work got done. I had read this article from Indeed before my internship and I found that it explained many structures very well and why some work and others do not. I have found that my boss was right—everyone, including interns, feel valued and important at SuitUp. In brainstorming meetings, company meetings, and even external calls, no one person dominates the conversation. Wins are group wins, and when we mess up, everyone takes responsibility and moves on.
Despite having managers, there is a very flat-feeling hierarchy. This is empowering certainly to interns, but I imagine it is for the full-time team as well. There is a divide and conquer mentality, and when we need support—even across teams—we ask. This has resulted in a very supportive family-oriented team (see picture – names blurred for privacy). I have realized that, like the Indeed article says, this is hard to scale. I am curious to see how this goes as SuitUp grows and the need for more leadership structures does as well. I am walking away from this experience noticing more than ever that intentionality with structures matters, as does the upkeep as teams change.