• FAQs for Organizational Design Capability

  • The following reviews some key concepts that are utilized in applying organizational design concepts to ensure that companies meet and surpass their objectives.

    What’s the difference between responsibility & accountability?

    Responsibility refers to an obligation or judgment you place on yourself according to your own ideals and conscience. For example, as an employee, you may feel responsible for succeeding in a project.

    Accountability refers to an obligation between two people. In an employment situation, when we talk about a manager’s holding a subordinate accountable, we mean that the employee agrees to work effectively on tasks assigned by the manager or to accept consequences the manager may bring to bear.

    Why do I need accountability? Does accountability mean who do we blame?

    Accountability is clarity + consequences and it serves two purposes. First, it helps keep employees focused on their work. Most of us want to drive safely, but we are more likely to drive at or below the speed limit if we know we might get a ticket for going above the limit. Similarly, most of us want to do a good job at work, but we are more likely to do a good job on the uninteresting aspects of work knowing that there will be consequences if we slack off. Second, accountability increases a sense of fairness. We tend to get de-motivated if we see others in the organization slacking off while we’re working hard. Most employees are effective at meeting their accountabilities. The challenge is to clearly define them so people know what is expected. If expectations are clear and the appropriate authority and resources are provided, the vast majority of employees will be able to meet these expectations.

    Accountability does not mean who we blame if something goes wrong. It simply means who owns a particular task, piece of work or output. If desired results are not achieved or if improvements are needed; who do we go to, to ensure the appropriate changes or adjustments are made to attain the desired result.

    What’s the difference between coaching & mentoring?

    Coaching is the accountability of the immediate manager to ensure his/her direct subordinates are working as effectively as the manager finds acceptable in the current role. This is accomplished formally informally on a frequent basis (at least monthly) through dialogue, direction and advice on how the subordinate could work better and through an annual performance review process.

    Mentoring is the accountability of the manager’s manager or manager once removed with respect to the employee’s future roles in the organization. This is accomplished through an annual meeting to discuss capability, employees’ desires, what an employee must do to fairly compete for future roles and what openings are anticipated in the organization in the future. The Manager once Removed is accountable for the people development of their unit by ensuring there are effective subordinates in the future.

    How do you define the level of a role?

    Every assignment or task has an intended length of time for completion. For example, a Plant Manager responsible for managing a large capital intensive plant is given the accountability to improve the plant’s profit margin by 25% over the next 3 years through the reduction of working capital & operating cost. “Time span” is defined by the length of the longest task in the role for which the incumbent has continuous uninterrupted accountability during which s/he must apply judgment/discretion to successfully complete a task or assignment. This may be a project, a rolling target or work a subordinate does continuously that the manager monitors closely or loosely. In the example above, if the Plant Manager Improvement task is the longest one given to the Plant Manager, that role has a 3 year time span.

    Time span measures the complexity of the role. (The length of a task does not measure task complexity. You may have some shorter type tasks that are quite complex.) Also, the longest task may not necessarily be the most important.

    Measuring the time span of a role is difficult even after one receives some training on this subject. Studies have shown that there are naturally occurring levels of roles based on time span. For example, an employee comfortable in a role with a time span below three months will want to be managed by a manager comfortably in a role with a time span between 3 and 12 months.

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