29Dec2012

Role and Goal Clarity

The most important factor that ensures good team work is establishing the role and goal clarity, especially as the organisations go bigger. Bigger in this context would even mean just be more than 20-30 people. Let me use an analogy to explain this success factor.

Imagine an Orchestra where the individual musicians aren't clear what their role and goal is. Role would be to play an instrument and the goal would be to strictly adhere to the music notes as well as to the conductor's instructions, mostly visual in nature. Jazz on the contrary is impromptu music where the number of musicians involved is far lesser and thus apart from some overall understanding clarity is not really necessary.

When organisations are small I would refer them as a Jazz band, where not having role and goal clarity in itself is an advantage to allow everyone to perform to excellence only with an overall understanding. As organisations get bigger they move towards an Orchestra. Have you been to any Orchestra with around 50 musicians without music notes in front of them or without a conductor?

However when it comes to organisations, especially during the ramping up phase, very normally neither is the need for role and goal clarity appreciated nor do the employees are convinced in needing the role and goal clarity. The result obviously is a huge hit to both the top and bottom line as well as huge problems in any kind of healthy team work with everyone wondering why we aren't able to deliver the same way as when we were smaller.

Role Clarity is established by thoughtfully (considering the necessary interfaces with the other functions and hierarchy levels) crafting the Job Descriptions that then must be approved by a cross functional leadership team. The Goal Clarity is established by defining the Goals of the organisation and then the individual functions in an interactive session involving the leadership team. The key here is to involve the entire leadership team so that the Goal conflicts, quite common in organisations, are addressed openly and the Goals appropriately modified. Once the roles and goals are thus established, the deployment can then be done to all the employees in a cascaded manner through the hierarchy.

My next blog will be on the next success factor of using structured reviews to meet the goals.