A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Unified Organizational Structure

Last Revised: Mar 18, 2011 - Initial Posting: Sep 28, 2007

The Fayette County Community Action Agency developed a unified organizational structure in order to create integrated agency services and to maximize efforts dedicated to accomplishing the agency’s mission.


The Fayette County Community Action Agency (FCCAA) made significant changes to its organizational structure in order to create improved client services and a stronger focus on accomplishing the agency’s mission.  Historically, FCCAA maintained a vertical structure that involved lines of authority from the executive director to program directors to front-line staff.  A reengineering process occurred to determine an approach that would offset various problems associated with the traditional structure, such as:

  • Inefficient operations and limited coordination among programs that operate in “silos”
  • Varied levels of attention to customer service
  • Inconsistent employee performance standards
  • Uneven workload levels among staff
  • Lack of cross-training that brings about gaps in coverage during staff absences
  • Limited opportunities for staff advancement
  • Staff roles viewed in relation to program rather than agency mission
  • Belief that staff works for a program rather than the CAA

An alternative organizational structure was developed using process-based management rather than administration of separately delivered services.  The new organizational structure creates a unified approach with defined management position roles including:

Project Manager assignments are blended with direct service positions depending on the size of the program (i.e. 10 hours bi-weekly for a program operating with a $100,000 budget).  Requirements to qualify as a Project Manager include employment with FCCAA for a minimum of one year and completion of FCCAA’s 40-hour management training program.  Salary rates are blended proportionately based on the percent of hours assigned as Project Manager (higher rate of pay) coupled with the remaining hours assigned as direct service staff (lower rate of pay).

Quarterly meetings are held involving senior management staff and Project Managers to review progress toward program goals and staffing issues.  The Management Support positions enable more than one manager to be involved with particular issues that might develop related to staff or client issues.  For example, the Customer Service Manager might work jointly with one of the Centers of Excellence to address a client complaint.  In this example, ultimate responsibility for client complaints is the responsibility of the Customer Service Manager.  This ensures that all clients are treated in a consistent manner across the agency.  For the most part, these types of issues were previously addressed on a program-by-program basis.

FCCAA is committed to supporting employee growth and development.  Staff training is conducted for each team and group including cross training across teams and groups.  Staff assignments can be adjusted as needed to meet specific priorities and to ensure balanced workloads.  Coaching is also emphasized based on the principles of the One-Minute Manager –  see video.  This involves managers helping staff achieve higher levels of performance through directive and supportive behaviors.

A team is a group of people who are trained to work on a particular project or process.  For example, a staff person involved with the FCCAA overall intake process may also serve as a housing specialist who completes Rural Development and rental assistance applications and may also be a project manager of three projects.  In this instance, the person would be involved with six different teams and would receive specialized trainings to ensure knowledge of each particular area.

Groups (centers of excellence) are trained in areas such as telephone etiquette, customer service, policies and procedures, etc.  All FCCAA employees must participate in these trainings.

FCCAA has developed a Centralized Employee Performance Review Process.  The Community Service Director and the Family Development Director complete all staff evaluations on an annual basis with input from the Executive Director, the Director of Operations, and the respective Project Manager.  FCCAA’s employee review process uses the Performance Impact System developed by KnowledgePoint.   This software walks managers through documenting performance, providing coaching and feedback, managing goals, writing performance reviews, and creating development plans.  Each employee is involved with establishing annual goals and 3-4 meetings are held during the year to assess progress toward achieving those goals.


FCCAA’s unified organization structure has made a positive difference in the following ways:

  • Creates common vision and mission for all employees
  • Emphasis placed on quality services for the customer including unified intake process
  • Focus on employee coaching and development
  • Builds teamwork across the agency including mutual support and backup coverage
  • Ensures consistent employee performance standards
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Increased opportunities for employee advancement

FCCAA was honored by the Community Action Partnership as a recipient of the 2004 Award for Excellence in Community Action, a national award designed after the Malcolm Baldrige Award.


James Stark, Executive Director

Tammy Knouse, Customer Service Manager