Makarios Consulting Blog

Fuzzy With a Chance of Blurry

Two critical things muddle the lines of accountability in a company: 1) blurred roles and 2) fuzzy responsibilities. We’ve all been there. You take a job and it turns out that you’re doing four or five people’s jobs. And no one seems to know where the responsibilities begin and end.

When roles and responsibilities are clear, everyone knows what he or she should be doing, and where their accountabilities lie. Everyone understands how their work intersects with their teammates’ work and with the company’s larger goals. Execution is crisp and effective.

When roles and accountabilities are unclear, it becomes difficult for a company’s leaders to hold team members accountable. It’s really tough for those team members to prioritize their work, or effectively execute the business strategy.

The result of these problems is twofold: first, the chain of command and the boundaries of accountability become tangled. When everyone does things above and beyond the call of duty, no one’s sure who’s responsible for what. The buck has to stop somewhere! Second, people are so busy doing other tasks, their own task list remains untouched.

When people aren’t given defined roles and responsibilities up front, they end up performing many tasks, many of which aren’t even close to their supposed job description. They do these ‘extracurricular’ tasks because the jobs need to get done, they do them well, or because they find them interesting.

Getting “the right people in the right seats” becomes essential to solving this problem and to the successful execution of your business plan. To begin, leaders need to ask “What seats do we need on our team, starting at the leadership team and working down through the organization, to prosper and grow?”

As leaders, we need to take a hard look at our organizational structures and ask three questions:

  • What seats do we need to run our business and achieve our goals?
  • What specific roles and responsibilities should those seats be accountable for?
  • Should some seats be cut, redefined, or added?

Keep in mind that we must evaluate everything that everyone is doing. We must assign every essential role to a seat – officially. Once we clarify roles and responsibilities, only then can we determine if we have ‘the right people in the right seats.’ A “right person” is someone who Gets the job (understands it), Wants the job (has a passion for the work), and Has the capacity to do the job (the skill and time).

We’ve found this exercise usually yields a mixed bag of results, each of which we must address appropriately:

  • Keep some people in their current ‘right’ position
  • Reassign people to a more appropriate position
  • Eliminate employees who are ‘deadwood’ and have no place in the company
  • Help people who have potential for a seat to build their skills

It takes time and patience to hard-wire organizational clarity into your business. But, it will pay off with superior execution of your business plan and results that will make you proud.