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With a single bound…

Monday, February 11th, 2019

My client, the new Managing Director of a specialist PR firm, had sent me some documentation in advance of a strategy workshop I was running for them.  Unfortunately, it seemed as if one of the files was corrupted; when I printed off the organisation chart the boxes with job titles were there, but the connecting reporting lines were missing.

I mentioned this to the MD in our brief meeting before the workshop and asked him if perhaps someone could print me a copy complete with lines. He seemed surprised. “Oh, we don’t have reporting lines. We think that would make us inflexible and unresponsive to customer requests.”

One of the issues that emerged in the workshop was that staff below the Board lacked innovation and never took responsibility or made decisions for themselves. I suggested that clearly defined accountability, authority and reporting lines meant staff could innovate and take responsibility within the areas that belonged to them. Conversely, they were unlikely to take ownership of problems if it was not clear that it was their problem, or if they did not know, metaphorically speaking, where the cliff-edge was.  Clear boundaries free employees to take responsibility.

The follow-up discussion about addressing this revealed the (pretty common) fact that one reason for leaving the structure hazy was that it avoided the need for some rigorous analysis, difficult conversations and hard decisions.

The fault was not in the employees but in the leadership.  If you want to avoid this kind of thinking and help your employees to become more accountable, then register for this event.

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