If you operate an organization, the implication is that it should be organized. Those involved should know their roles and responsibilities. Such roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined, written, translated if necessary, agreed upon and enforced. Participants should be held accountable. There should be no lack of clarity on the age-old question of “Who will do what by when?”
The hierarchy (for lack of a better term) should be established, and every participant should be clear on the chain of command. That chain should be respected by every link with the unmistakable recognition that the chain (organization) is only as strong as its weakest link.
Problems within the organization should be clearly identified, specified and quantified in terms of costs associated with regard to losses monetarily as well as lost opportunity created by the lack of efficiency. Any patterns of failure or lack of responsibility should be systematically and relentlessly addressed until resolved. Yes, that’s how an organization should be organized. However, though there is a lot of business going on, very few businesses qualify (in the truest sense of the word) as an organization.
“I Don’t Think an Organizational Chart Will Do Any Good!”
The header for this section is a direct quote from someone I’ve worked with over the years. Though I respect the source, I respectfully disagree. Why bother with an organizational chart? For one thing, it forces us to structure our organization, which in and of itself provides better organization. It also gives clarity as to authority and responsibility to those inside and outside of our organizations. It’s an invaluable tool for management, employees and customers. Each of them can use it to navigate their way through problems by clearly illustrating who to go to for what and who to go to next if something isn’t getting resolved.
An organizational chart will also remove any excuse for breaking the chain of command and provides management justification to point others with complaints to those directly responsible for those areas, meanwhile avoiding offending those who are in authority by respecting their authority. Furthermore, it puts everyone on notice as to who is answerable to whom as well as who is responsible for whom. It removes the ambiguity that often plagues mid-size to large businesses and most of all—What’s the reason for an organizational chart? Wait for it …
Because you run an organization!
Granted, if it becomes just another piece of paper, it’s a waste of time. Nevertheless, when fully utilized it’s a critical and effective first step in becoming an organization. By the way, use titles and not names in your organizational chart. Things change and those in charge change more than their titles. In a well organized organization, the structure as to titles of department heads and so on will be much less subject to change than the individuals who currently hold those positions.
Maybe you’re smart enough to already know that. I wasn’t and learned the hard way. Use titles.
You’re Not the Boss of Me!
So now you have another problem. Rivalry—a sibling rivalry! You wind up with management that constantly hovers at the horizontal level on your organizational chart, plaguing your organization with friction and turmoil, resisting one another. Peers, who are not unlike a family, but all too often a dysfunctional family! You’ll have to agree with them. They don’t answer to one another. They are not in a position of authority over one another, but they do have to interact effectively. Now what?
Cooperation is the key. At every level in any organization there must be high level cooperation. I think it was Rodney King who once put the all-important question to mankind: “Can’t we all just get along?” Actually the word “just” was added later and the quote actually reads differently. “Can’t we get along?,” which is a valid question that puts any business to the organizational test! Can’t we get along?
Let’s work for the common good. Are we so blind that we can’t see the benefit the organization provides us? Aren’t we big enough to look past the petty and focus on the critical? What happens if we fight ourselves into oblivion? Can we afford to battle our way into chaos? The answer is quick and simple: No!
In today’s world it is all the more important to operate above the fray. Yes, you can break/bend the rules and perhaps survive a bit longer. Indeed, that’s the course many opt to take. Pay a little cash, cook the books, and gather in the crowd of collusion—go ahead, if you will! But what about a lasting solution, and what’s the answer to the question begging to be asked? How does one (or for that matter a business) truly survive? Get organized! Very organized! Become a business that is in the very truest sense of the word an organization!
Doug Bellamy is president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif., where he is known for his proactive, innovative approach to our changing industry, and use of modern technology and cutting edge products and services.