You have just been appointed the CEO of your company; is your company broken, does it work? Did your predecessor leave you with a well-oiled machine or did you inherit a broken engine with missing parts?
If that is the case, you now face an abundance of organizational problems: little internal cooperation, poor follow through on assignments, resistance to change, low morale, overall poor organizational performance, and lackluster or little support to implement your new policies and plans.
Your new biggest challenge will be your greatest asset; your employees and management team. In order to overcome the existing situation, you will need to ensure that they are all on the same page as you so that you can manage them and implement your vision for the company. Without their support, your plan is destined to fail.
To avoid the forgoing situation, you need to ensure that your organization has a working and effective Performance Management System. Regardless of the size of your company (corporation or local gift shop), you need to ensure that the following three questions are answered to ensure that all employees at every level understand what they are responsible for and that they also recognize that you as their leader are there to ensure their success.
1) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) knows what to do, why they are to do it, and how to do it?”
You need evidence that this Fundamental Requirement is being carried out. In particular, how is this Requirement assured? What’s the proof that this happens? If processes are not in place to ensure that this happens, something has to be done right away, or you’ll be trapped in the present and unable to articulate and communicate your plans to everyone who must know.
Many different tools or forms should be used to give direction. The Job Description is only the most common document in a much larger list of activities, procedures, concepts, processes and forms. The key would be that your organization clearly knows the reason why these directional tools and processes are being implemented, i.e. to ensure that everyone knows what to do, why they are to do it, and how to do it.
Why is this so important to the Organization Leader? Because, to revisit the previous scenario about the challenges facing a new Leader, the intentions of the Leader’s strategic plan, policy, philosophy or change initiatives must become translated into the job activities of all appropriate members of the organization. Otherwise their behavior may become inconsistent with the plan and more likely contrary to the required actions.
2) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) receives support to make them successful in their respective jobs?”
You need evidence of this as well. More importantly, do your management understand that their role is to support their subordinates and to make them all successful? That should be your performance expectation of all your managers. Because even if your plans and ideas are clearly known and supported by all the organization, if your people can’t get it done because of a lack of ability or motivation, you will have failed again. As with the resolution of Question 1, there are a great many skills, programs and processes that managers can use to support their members and strengthen their abilities and motivation. However, this is an area where fads flourish so the organization needs to realize that the test for experimenting with any new management concept is whether it contributes to the members’ success in their jobs. The new concept cannot be just for entertainment or because the company down the street is doing it.
Why is the success of individual employees personally important to the Organization’s Leader? Because individual job success reaffirms the positive value and benefit of the Leader and the Leader’s plans, and increases each member’s support for the change. Failure does the opposite and wastes resources.
3) “What is my organization doing to ensure that everyone (top to bottom) follows through and is accountable for meeting his or her performance expectations and obligations?”
You need to find out what processes are actively used to keep people accountable and motivated to follow through with their responsibilities. This would include regular follow up and review meetings where managers and their direct reports jointly review the person’s progress in the job.
Surely having your people do what their position requires is the point of the whole exercise. If they don’t, why are you wasting your time, and why does the organization need you? The first Fundamental Requirement tells you, as the Organizational Leader, that you need to make it clear that you expect everyone to follow through with their job responsibilities. That’s part of their direction. The second Fundamental Requirement focuses your attention on making sure that everyone can perform successfully. And the third Fundamental Requirement closes the loop and brings closure to both your need to know that the organization and its members are on track, and each individual’s need to know that he or she has been successful and is a valuable member of the organization.
The importance to the Leader of accountability and follow through is that it proves the value of the Leader’s plans. Lack of follow through by any member reduces the perceived (and actual) value and success of the Leader’s plans and diminishes executive credibility.
Although this example above is about being a new Leader in an organization, the same questioning applies for any manager stepping into a new leadership position in any company, industry or organization, as well as for any entrepreneurs planning to start their own businesses. The three Fundamental Requirements must be in place or you and your organization will fail and all your plans and ambitions will stop, possibly never to return.
The three Fundamental Requirements for Managing Organizations have less to do with what individual managers do, as they do about what the organization needs to be designed to ensure happens. In organizations, management practices need to be a characteristic or a system of the organization, rather than just the skill set of individual managers. All three Fundamental Requirements need to be reflected in the organization’s culture and become operational through a Performance Management System and thereby an asset of the organization.
The three Fundamental Requirements are individually and jointly required for successful management. Since they all relate to directing, supporting and ensuring the required behavior of people, they are the Fundamental Requirements not only for the management of individual members of an organization but also for the management of the organization’s culture and the management of organizational change. As a result, these three Fundamental Requirements along with a Performance Management System are essential components of the job of an Organizational Leader.
Who’s in Charge?
Thank you to my Performance Management Mentor, Dr. Bob Kent, for being my inspiration to spread the word about Simple, Sensible Management.