Sunday, July 1, 2012

Who's on First, What's on Second

In a small company, people wear a lot of hats. Trouble is, most people are not sure which hats they wear, and which hats others wear. Worse, you many not be sure of any of that.

Here's a simple little exercise a Chief Executive Boards International member brought up at a recent meeting. Start with a big white board, or a conference table top. Have all your key players make a list of all their roles, responsibilities or job functions in the company -- the more detailed the better. Then have them write each of those, individually, on a Post-it-Note.

Divide the table or white board into a section for each person, where they put all their own Post-it-Notes. Then everybody gets a shot at debating who actually does what, and they can negotiate moving the notes around. If two people claim they're doing the same thing, they can mark up their Post-its to indicate who's "primary" -- has that responsibility every day -- and who's "backup" -- covers for the primary person when he's gone or when things get really busy.

Then add another twist -- ask about things people THINK others are doing or responsible for, that nobody listed. Maybe make these a different color of Post-its, and have everyone place these where they think they belong. Of course, it's up to the "recipient" of one of these chores to either own up to them or contend that they're really not responsible.

You'll be surprised at the results if you try this. You'll learn that people think others are looking after things they're not -- that nobody is. You'll learn that 2-3 people have a vaguely shared responsibility for some things -- that there's not clear-cut accountability for them.

Give this a try, and let others know how it worked out in the "comments" section below.

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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