Senior managers set a goal

The power of a single goal comprehended by all is immense.

In an organisation with good management processes it drives strategy, tactics, risk amelioration, competency development, and recruitment and reward structures.

Even in the poorest managed organisations a clear goal gives every individual the chance to have a purpose and therefore, meaning in their work. Meaningful work is one of the greatest sources of dignity that a human being can have.

Managers manage risk

Sources of risk and possible events which trigger the consequence of the risk occur in every workplace. It is a manager’s accountability to identify the sources and events and take action on those sources and events which lead to catastrophic consequences. It is also their responsibility to eliminate those sources or the events.

The alternatives are accidents and incidents which not only make it improbable the goal will be reached but that people may be hurt directly or indirectly in the endeavour to reach the goal.

Managers take accountability

Managers are accountable. They are accountable for processes, for outcomes and for the selection of inputs. They are accountable for subordinates’ good behaviour and their poor behaviour. They are accountable for profits and losses.

Taking accountability is a sure sign of leadership. Shirking accountability is a sure sign of weakness. Productive workplaces have strong, resilient accountable leaders.

Everyone takes responsibility

Whilst managers are accountable for their actions and the actions of their subordinates, each person is responsible for their own actions.

Each person is responsible for the decisions they make. They are responsible for whether they want to be part of the 20% who want to excel or the 10% who want a free ride. They are responsible for whether they want to be part of the group who takes safety and security seriously or those who want to take risks. They are responsible for learning and improving in their job or passing off responsibility to someone else. Meaningful work is a powerful source of dignity. Meaningful work completed whilst taking personal responsibility is a powerful source of dignity and pride.

Communicators take responsibility for what is heard

Workplace communications make people feel wanted or unwanted, valued or devalued, included or excluded. The way people feel drives the way they think. The way they think drives what they do. It is the responsibility of the person who is communicating to ensure what people hear and feel is what they want them to hear and feel.

It is not good enough, for example, for individuals to say, “He was not listening”, as if the responsibility was the listener’s. If that is a problem then fix it. Find a way to make them want to listen.

Departments measure what drives performance

A goal is good. Performance indicators developed to reflect my department’s influence on the goal are great. Performance indicators which reflect what drives my department’s impact on the goal give individuals the opportunity to strive together to one performance standard that they know will help them positively contribute towards the goal. The ultimate work place source of dignity and pride is to know how you contribute to a team goal.

Departments reward what drives performance

Rewards for performance should match the contribution to the goal. Reward what drives performance (see measure what drives performance) not performance outcomes

They should take into account the external and internal environment which applied at the time of the performance. If a lag indicator has to e used, reward performance, not market trends. That is, don’t reward individuals for beating the sales target when the whole market was buoyant and up by 20% and their sales were up by 2%. Do reward individuals when they fail to meet sales targets by 1% and the market was down by 20%.

The experience of the individual should be taken into account when setting the criteria for the reward. Create standards of performance for everybody and targets for the more competent. Stretching people with targets provides not only a numeric goal, but also an individual development goal.