Work Traits

Need for Structure

A need for structure is particularly beneficial in functional roles that require strategic thinking and planning.
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What does it mean to have a need for structure?

Having a need for structure, planning and organizing means you aren’t one to jump into a project unless you’ve written out a detailed plan and organized your resources. You like to use lists, matrices, and other project management tools to reduce chaos and increase productivity.

You’re highly trusted when it comes to getting projects over the finish line and coordinating all of the little details.

However, on your team, you can also appear rigid or like you waste time on unnecessary planning. To team members who prefer to take action, you might look like you’re dragging your feet.

We call it: Structure

Your level of energy and priority on planning, organizing, ordering, and establishing a relationship between all the resources and parts of a project or task.

Boundaries are basically about providing structure, and structure is essential in building anything that thrives.

Henry Cloud

Leaders who have a need for structure

Bryan Rafanelli

Bryan Rafanelli

A need for structure is a quality that’s particularly helpful in event planning, and Bryan Rafanelli is no exception. He’s put together everything from lavish celebrity weddings to White House events with Michelle Obama.

It’s his strong desire for structure that allows him to coordinate even the smallest details of these events.

“Walk through everything that will take place, minute by minute,” he said in an interview for BizBash. “By being over-prepared when an opportunity or challenge presents itself, the team is ready and able to react to make the event experience even better.”

Mindy Weiss

Mindy Weiss has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading event planners, having planned weddings and celebrations for a number of celebrity clients.

She’s meticulous when it comes to managing the details of these extravagant affairs, and touts the power of structure and organization in a blog post on her own website. 

“It’s important to stay organized right from the start,” she writes. “Make use of a budgeting spreadsheet and other tools and apps to keep things under control. And always keep your to-do list to an achievable length, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.”

Mindy Weiss
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Henry Gantt

If you’re familiar with project management concepts and tools, you’ll recognize the name Henry Gantt. He created the Gantt chart, which displays tasks and their estimated time duration. 

This tool allows teams and project managers to understand the project workload, how individual tasks fit together, and how long the entire project will take to complete. 

It goes without saying that he had a need for structure, and he developed this tool and several other important philosophies (like industrial efficiency) that still shape project management today.

The benefits of a need for structure

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You don’t just have a high-level view of projects. You know exactly how individual elements and resources are connected, and are able to manage them accordingly.

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You aren’t one to dive in and see how things turn out. You like to have a detailed plan to guide you, which can make the actual project process a lot smoother.

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Risk reduction

Because you know all of the resources and parts of a project or task before you get started, you’re equipped and ready to mitigate potential risks.

The blind spots of a need for structure

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Sometimes the best-laid plans fall apart, and your high need for structure might mean you struggle to roll with the punches.

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Delayed action

Planning and structure take time, and that’s time you might not have if your team needs to take quick action on a decision or project.

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If you work in a fast-paced environment, your tendency to always map out the structure can serve as a point of frustration for you or your team.

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How to increase your need for structure

1) Learn from project management resources.

Project management is an industry that prioritizes a high need for structure, and you can learn from a lot of the resources—blog posts, books, courses, videos, and more—in that field.

You’ll pick up on many project management concepts that can help you take a more structured approach to all of your tasks and to-dos.

2) Understand dependencies.

Somebody with a high need for structure doesn’t just understand the individual elements of a project—they understand how they fit together. Dependencies are a big part of that.

Write down the different elements of your project and challenge yourself to spot the dependencies. Is there a task that can’t be completed until a subsequent one is done? Is there a resource that’s needed for two steps of the process? Those are important to note.

3) Make yourself a schedule.

If you’re someone who’s used to going with the flow and seeing where the workday will take you, getting used to more structure can be a challenge. 

Dip your feet in by creating a simple schedule for your workday. By assigning time estimates and to-dos, you’ll get a little more comfortable with a more rigid approach to your work.

4) Do a SWOT analysis.

There are a lot of different methods and frameworks to help you consider all of the moving parts of a project, but a SWOT analysis is a great one to dig into the more detailed elements.

With this analysis, you’ll identify your project’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats and use that to make project-related decisions. It’s a way more informed approach than winging it.

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