Continuing the theme I started a couple of weeks ago when talking about Richard Hackman’s book “Leading Teams” where he highlights the 5 conditions required for a high performing team. I want to talk about his fourth condition – enabling structure.
In my opinion, too often we go after the traditional corporate structure – the age old template that we have all experienced.
I am not a fan of this starting place!
I am a much bigger fan of the Jim Collins’ approach – “get the right people on the bus, and then dole out the tasks.” Okay, that is not a direct quote, but you get the meaning!
So my 4 principles to obey when setting the structure are:
1. Build around the people and their skills.
Those you choose to head up the different elements of your structure need to be leaders, managers, coaches first, along with having a working knowledge of their area of responsibility. But, remember, you can always hire the technical expert to support the leader. In my view the technical experts are easier to find than the leaders. And leaders are worth their weight in gold!
2. Minimise handover.
While inter-dependency will always exist – and that is a good thing – I will always try to minimise the level of handover from one area to another. Where possible, have all the resources to complete a task within the area itself. It avoids accountability being blurred, and reduces the “blame the others” culture.
3. Have wider spans of control.
I never like it when final delivery rests across multiple areas in the business. It delivers the greatest danger of things falling between the cracks and also no one having full sight of the project or initiative from beginning to end. This “piece meal” approach can be useful in the manufacturing industry, but that’s about it. So, extend the span of control that suits your business needs, which should be a reflection of your client needs.
4. Clear accountability
I will go to my grave heralding the need for greater accountability! I hear a lot of talk about it, but I don’t see as much action about it! Lack of accountability is what holds so many teams back, and those that do grasp that nettle and become completely accountable see their businesses grow faster and faster. Where there is a grey area, then pour light upon it but do not allow any ambiguity to arise. This starts at the top of the business and is a cultural issue.
But I have seen many structures become confusing when it comes to accountability.
So, run these 4 principles across your structure today – then act on what it tells you!
Do you have something to add to the story? Please share them in the comments below or shoot me an email. Would love to hear from you!
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