A critical factor in executing on our strategy begins with creating organizational structures that empower informed employees with the latitude to make broader line-level decisions. Stronger line-level managers and employees benefit the entire organization by improving upon the execution within the business operations while being a major part of the many strategic “goal-supporting” initiatives the business relies upon for fueling the future vision. Empowerment of managers and employees also gets executive management out of the minutia by trusting well-informed and competent staff below them on the organization chart instead of trying to shoulder too much responsibility themselves. This is accomplished with well-constructed strategic plans that concisely relate to the operational budgets controlling the tactics of implementation.
Organizational performance indicators and metrics help provide the ability to control and manage, as they signal the need for evaluation and analysis early when corrections to implementation tactics can be made more easily with fewer cost implications. With proper management controls in place, this approach allows those closest to the action to respond quickly and appropriately when it is needed – always operating within predefined spheres of control and in concert with the strategic goals. The goals are well known and understood by empowered employees, as their direct managers will have effectively communicated these goals to them, accompanied by the expectations for how they can directly contribute – allowing them to embrace the vision and fully participate in the tactical execution.
With empowerment comes accountability, and accountability requires clarity. Clarity regarding roles and responsibilities relative to plan goals requires people who have sufficient incentive and understanding to execute to that plan. Employees that understand what is being done, the reasons why, when to do what, and how they can contribute become empowered team players.
Trust, but verify.
But what if you, the executive manager, do not have full trust in your lower-level managers? That is where verification of performance is so very important. Setting up accountability in job descriptions, as well as incremental work related to strategic initiatives, allows for performance verification to take place. As a side-note, managers and employees should be allowed to have strong input into their own job descriptions (if not write them entirely). The direct supervisor of course has the final approval over the content, but the employee must fully “own” the job role. This is true when reaching agreement on deadlines for strategic initiatives. After fully understanding the role the employee is expected to play in relation to the strategic initiative, he or she should be responsible for submitting their “accountabilities” related to the initiative to their manager for approval. Once finalized, job descriptions must be updated in coordination with Human Resource departments. By keeping these job descriptions current, they will support the accountability factor needed to sustain execution standards of excellence over the long haul.
Accountability also must be clear in terms of expected timeframes. For accountability to exist, all who are affected by the plan must understand what is to be accomplished and within what timeframe. After all, it is impossible to hold people accountable for accomplishing a key outcome if there is no basis to measure. Similarly, if an objective that is not bound by time or if the team has unlimited time to complete it, the goal can never be considered to be complete or its progress evaluated.
Join us again next week for another new article about strategic planning.