Good Fences Make Good Partners
How do you release untapped potential in your company? What can be done to reduce errors and improve the productivity of all who work there? Why do some days just feel like it is one step forward and two steps back?
The lack of clear roles and boundaries. That’s the reason.
People end up doing other people’s work, often not taking it to completion. The sense in the company is nobody really knows what they and all the others are responsible for.
What are the solutions to these issues?
Most companies have job descriptions. Most of the time the job descriptions are never looked at.
A good job description lays out an employee’s role in the company, clearly delineating what the position requires the employee to do, to focus on, and, almost more importantly, what is NOT the responsibility of the employee. The job description lays out what activities the employee should engage in. It should also lay out what the employee is to accomplish, with some simple, clear metrics to shoot for.
Just by working in your company to get very clear about what each position is responsible for and looking for any unintentional overlap you and your people start to feel more in control and a bit less crazed.
As with job descriptions, most companies have an organization chart. This chart lays out the hierarchy in the company and the departments.
Classic departments in many businesses are Sales, Administration and Production.
What happens when the organization chart is not followed or respected?
Let’s look at a common scenario:
Fred, a lead carpenter, stops by the office to drop off some paperwork for his production manager. He sees that Amy, the head of Administration, is in the office and mentions to her that he wants to take time off. Amy acknowledges his request and puts it into the office calendar.
Fred’s production manager eventually finds out about this, but it’s too late. The new project that he planned to have Fred run is going to start when Fred will be away. He’ll now need to delay the project.
Following the hierarchy with all such communication prevents this type of thing from happening.
The solution is simple: If Fred wants time off, he must go to the production manager first for approval. If Fred asks Amy about time off she must ask Fred to talk to the production manager first.
Doing so respects the boundaries between the authority each position on the organization chart has. With the boundaries respected there are fewer “How did that happen?” conversations and everyone will feel more successful.
But isn’t this approach too rigid?
No. Like a fence, job descriptions and an organization chart set clear limits for each of the positions in the company. Doing so reduces misunderstandings and frustration.
Complete freedom is unmanageable. It is also not what your clients are buying.
Clarity and respect for limits create great potential for unimagined success. Construct your fences and find out.