You don’t need a reporting relationship to get things done


Organisations often need a watchdog role.  I know we shouldn’t call it that, we should at least say ‘ensure quality’ or ‘alignment’.  But what we are trying to achieve is to make sure that a group of people provide the services or do the work as required.

One particular role comes to mind where this function appears – Manager of Strategy.   This role is often expected to ensure that plans and outputs across the business align with the agreed organisational strategy. Read more…

Stop the battles: Using authorities to set up cross-functional work

Eli Painting 1

There is a way to create a culture of working together and stopping cross-functional work being the bane of your people’s working life, and it does not start with sending everyone away to learn how to handle conflict, find out their personality type or get 360 feedback.

Instead, it involves addressing the issue at its source by managers clarifying what they are each accountable for, confirming with their cross-over manager, then setting up role relationships for their people by integrating accountabilities and authorities.

Elliott Jaques provides  seven different types of authority to match with accountability Read more…

Connect what to who (not how)

ETSA Building 2

Tom Foster writes Management Skills Blog, one of the best going around on organisations and management.  I always urge my clients to sign up, please do yourself a favour and do the same.

One of my favourite points of Tom’s is  “it’s not about how, it’s about who“.    This simple phrase goes to the heart of a change in thinking managers at all levels can apply if they want to provide better value-adding leadership to their people.

A manager who is spending their time thinking about how their people need to do something is not actually doing their full job.   This is for a simple reason – managers are paid to exercise their judgement on what needs to be done in their area to fulfill the needs of the organisation, then decide who is going to do it.

An example Read more…

Higher up does not mean vague it up

Tractor 2

Where to sir?

There’s something I’ve seen in organisations more than once, that if we put into a saying would read like this: “the higher you go in management, the more vague you can be about what you actually want“.  This sentence will not exactly generate wise nods around the executive table, but it seems to be true a lot of the time.

Why does this occur? Three reasons 1) behavioural , 2) cognitive capability and 3) knowledge & skill

For behavioural, it means Read more…

Sorting the leader manager thing

Roles and verbs

The leader / manager distinction.

I’ve seen chapters in textbooks on it.  I’ve seen MBA courses spend an entire session debating this.   And I’ve never got any use out of any of it.

Here’s a way to sort this out that is actually useful:

Manager is a type of role.  If you are accountable for the work of someone else, then guess what?  You are a manager.  Just like if you are accountable for the work of moving a football forward to score goals, you are a football player.

(How much time do you think people running football clubs spend discussing ‘what is a football player?’) Read more…