It is easy to say that businesses need to be clear about what needs to be done and who needs to do it to achieve optimum performance. But it is so hard to do. Leadership teams habitually struggle to clarify roles and responsibilities: it requires discipline and courage to define the seats you need on your team, and it takes decisive action to define with clarity the roles each seat should fulfill.
When we encounter teams that are struggling with performance issues, we ask the leadership team to define, from a clean sheet of paper, the seats they need on their team to achieve their business goals. Then we ask them to list three to five bullets – just brief phrases – to describe what each seat on the team is responsible for. This is called creating an Accountability Chart, and is part of our work helping leadership teams implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®).
When teams begin this work, it often feels awkward for them. However, it is essential work because if leaders cannot define their best structure, they will struggle to hit stretch goals.
There are many reasons why organizational ambiguity exists. For example, managers may have been handed a structure when they assumed their leadership role and never thought to question it. Some managers are territorial and unwilling to change the roles under their command lest they “lose” some unspoken battle. Then there are the age-old business killers: “We’ve always done it this way” and “We’ve never done it that way.”
Clarity of roles and responsibilities is essential. Without it, some jobs overlap while other key responsibilities go unaddressed. Efficiency and productivity are hurt. Worker frustration creates a negative undercurrent on the team. Managers don’t know exactly what they have or what they need, so they cannot make the best hiring decisions. Change initiatives are bogged down.
In our experience, 80 percent of the battle to ensure peak team performance – and, by extension, peak company performance – relies on organizational clarity. Take the time and have the courage as a leader to clarify the roles and responsibilities you need to achieve your business goals.
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