I cannot state how many times I’ve run across organizations and teams that have a partial or even total lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities. I would say that it’s virtually epidemic in some organizations.
Here are just a few examples:
- A smaller organization that has sales and marketing functions as well as several “business development” people floating around – it’s completely unclear who is responsible for creating sales plans and who has responsibility for the customer relationships
- A major global organization that isn’t sure, exactly, what the influence of the functional groups should be over the various business lines
- The CEO of a North American services company allows a friend of his run to around the company and “trouble-shoot”
- An imbedded team within a global firm that is responsible for project planning and delivery – the project manager isn’t clear about her role versus others’; the others believe that she is taking on too much responsibility and usurping them
- A smaller global services company that has “realigned” its sales forces and told the existing sales group to “figure it out”
The negative impact is huge! Here are some sample outcomes:
- Missed deliverables
- Lost revenue
- Spent emotional, intellectual, and even physical energy at both the individual and group levels
- Wasted time
- High anxiety and emotionally reactive behaviors
- Negative employee morale
The cause? Failed leadership nerve…bottom line.
In every single case listed above I can definitively state that the primary reason was leadership’s failure to:
- Personally engage the discussions
- Clearly and specifically identify the issues
- Seek feedback from key participants at all critical levels
- Form their own opinions and articulate them
- Make decisions
- Resource the decisions
- Hold people accountable for the decisions
Matrixed organizations are a fact of life in the corporate world of the 21st century. There will always be occasional confusion and questions. But it’s senior leadership’s responsibility to make sure that these structures work and work well. Unfortunately, many leaders lack either:
- The ability to bring clarity
- The courage to bring clarity
- Or, horror of horrors….both!
Leaders must not leave these critical and potentially contentious decisions for people below them to “figure out for themselves.” If you’re a leader and roles and responsibilities are not clear in your world, then muster the courage and find the resources to get the needed clarity and make the decisions that will enable people to function at their best and drive results!