Career Progression in a Flat Organization

Furthering Careers Without Promotions

Flat organizations don't have a hierarchy

© iStockphoto/sodafish

Imagine this scenario: You work for an organization that you really love. Your team is great, the work is enjoyable, and the pay is pretty good. There should be nothing to complain about, right?

Well, there's one problem. Your company is a "flat" organization, which means that it has a horizontal structure. Promotion opportunities are rare – because there are very, very few openings at the next level up, and there are many colleagues at your level who would compete for those few openings.

Flat organizations often benefit from a small bureaucracy. For example, decisions and response times are usually much quicker. But how can you stay motivated when you know that, most likely, you'll still be in your current position years from now? And if you manage a team in a flat organization, how can you help team members develop their careers without the promise of promotion?

In this article, we'll look at what flat organizations are, and how you can keep yourself – and your team – motivated and excited about work.

Flat Organizations

Flat organizations have very few management layers in the company hierarchy. So instead of allowing workers to "climb the corporate ladder" and move up to higher-level positions, flat organizations tend to give more power to workers in their current positions.

There are two main types of flat organizations:

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