Schlagwort-Archive: Roles

Various decision-makers always generate compromises

The pandemic has mainly set the ossified procedures of white-collar workers in motion. For a long time, there have been new approaches for collaboration – e.g., leaner structures; one-stop task, authority, and responsibility (TAR); dissolution of lengthy bureaucracy; mobile working. It gives employees more rights and obligations. Managers lose their raison d’être: decision-making, leadership, and control. A resolution is made on the spot by those involved. Nevertheless, there is still an overarching body that decides in case of doubt.

Nowadays, different areas are involved in a decision, all of which have their intentions and make the following aspects noteworthy.

  • The subsidiarity mindset
    The appropriate place must be found to dissolve cumbersome ways of decision-making. The Catholic Church formulated a blueprint for this in 1931. The principle of subsidiarity in Pope Pius XI’s encyclical on the restructuring of the social order describes the division of labor as follows:
    The supreme authority of the State ought, therefore, to let subordinate groups handle matters and concerns of lesser importance, which would otherwise dissipate its efforts greatly. Thereby the State will more freely, powerfully, and effectively do all those things that belong to it alone because it alone can do them: directing, watching, urging, restraining, as occasion requires and necessity demands. Therefore, those in power should be sure that the more perfectly a graduated order is kept among the various associations, in observance of the principle of “subsidiary function,” the stronger social authority and effectiveness will be the happier and more prosperous the condition of the State.”
    Today’s VUCA world can use this approach to maintain momentum and employee engagement. The cross-functional, universally recognized authority decides when a decision cannot be made at its level.
  • Clear roles
    Continuous decomposition into smaller parts leads to temporary networks that replace rigid hierarchies and exclusionary silos. Clear roles are needed that describe the tasks, authorities, and responsibilities (TAR) of those involved.
    Due to the fast-paced circumstances, roles are replacing small-scale individual job descriptions. Stakeholders need requirements for their actions as general as possible, with sufficient leeway for unforeseen circumstances.
  • Compromises
    The professional tasks lead to different interests, intentions, and constraints. Only the joint negotiation of a decision by those affected leads to a feasible result accepted by all. Immediate delegation upwards does deliver a decision. However, Top-Down decisions lead to the displeasure of ALL parties involved: a) because they are not part of the decision-making; b) because, for them, the most important aspects are not considered. In the end, all parties have to make concessions and let go of some wishes to achieve a result. Finding a compromise depends on the solution’s longevity – the longer, the more elaborate the negotiation. The parties’ concluding willingness and decisive commitment is the basis for the viability of the consent.
  • Continuous improvement
    A primary enemy of creative solutions is the presupposition that the VUCA world stops turning after a decision. Every solution results in more or less persistent change – the construction of highways changes the landscape for a long time; agreeing on a typical course of action can be adjusted at any time.
    In VUCA times, we incessantly learn what works and what doesn’t. It can lead to the need to undo or change something again. With the Japanese consensual philosophy of Kaizen (改善), approaches are available to do something better without denigrating previous solutions and to avoid face loss.
  • Consequences for decision-makers
    The previous points result in a mindset that enables the participants to compromise. The previous negotiating skills will be expanded by empathizing with other people, recognizing their intentions and readiness, and responding appropriately to achieve Win-Win outcomes.
    In the VUCA world, little lasts. For this reason, parties should be less insistent on their desires. With empathy and a clear prioritization of their wishes, they achieve more viable results.
  • Highlander principle
    If the parties do not find each other, then a decision needs the back door of the higher level. The archaic Highlander Principle then applies: There can be only one. As long as there are several equal negotiators, it boils down to a conflict of interests that can only be resolved with compromise.
    In the VUCA world, such decisions increase the risk of failure. If those affected are not sufficiently involved, top-down resolutions are required.

Bottom line: It is impossible to satisfy all those affected with one resolution. Because of the different intentions, more or less significant compromises are necessary to achieve a result. The people in charge and the scope of action are outlined, using the principle of subsidiarity and clear roles. If the compromises are expected by those involved, it is easier for them to find an agreement. Afterward, it is always possible to improve. It is crucial for the decision-makers to develop an appropriate mindset to not insist on requirements and give in to others. If there is no result, there is always the possibility to use a SINGLE decision-maker according to the Highlander principle. ALL should understand that multiple deciders ALWAYS create compromises.

When targets get tangled

Our body is a good image for a company. A body is not a messy heap of cells but a coordinated whole. The various systems (such as the cardiovascular system, respiration, digestion, nerves, skeleton, muscles, and skin) have only one goal – the survival of the indivisible. It does not work without each other. The designed economic division of labor lacks this coherence due to self-interests. It already begins with how biz is divided: according to functions, hierarchical layers, or regions. “Do one thing and don’t let the other” is the mantra of the undecided leaders. When dividing, for instance, into ten functions, three levels, five regions, it creates up to 150 units with their own and common intentions. In addition, an inscrutable net of relationships emerges from professional and personal commitments. In contrast to the body, these fragmented units and overlapping responsibilities lead to self-made chaos. This becomes visible in tangled targets that hinder and neutralize each other and undermine the purpose of the enterprise.

In addition to departments, layers, or regions, the following perspectives increase the formal hullabaloo.

  • Direction
    We cannot assume that the official goals relate to the area described. It would be advantageous to know whether corporate, career, or private intentions are hidden behind them. It becomes difficult if the feigned company aspiration serves personal development or private intentions, such as leisure time.
  • Roles
    The assigned roles influence the perspective of target makers. Bystanders assume that decision-makers have their responsibilities in mind. Or the influencing stakeholders care about their sphere of influence. Or the performers confine themselves to their tasks. But what does it mean when leaders have the mindset of an employee? How do we deal with stakeholders who pretend to be in charge? What are the real concerns of the employees?
  • Territory
    Goals are given to the entire company, divisions, projects, and individual employees. It is the responsibility of the decision-makers to ensure that the targets are consistent. Even in large line structures, it isn’t easy to ensure coherence because of the overlapping measures. It is impossible to untangle the constantly changing interdependencies in an agile format or a matrix structure and maintain a consistent overall picture.
  • Temporality
    Goals are assigned for the present year. Unfortunately, measures do not adhere to the corresponding calendars: tasks cannot be completed in the current year; projects often run across the year’s boundary. When long-term plans come into play, the result is a jumble of old and new costs and outcomes that is difficult to track. This confusion cannot be reliably tracked with an elaborate reporting system (even if this is often suggested). Goals are only partially achieved or not achieved at all in such an environment.
  • Criteria
    Skillfully formulated targets already include metrics when they are prepared that can be used to gauge progress and the degree to which they have been achieved. Most goals are formulated too vaguely, which makes it impossible to evaluate their fulfillment. And sometimes, qualitative goals are pursued, which can only be estimated and subjectively evaluated.

Bottom line: Those responsible are deluding themselves if they think they can achieve consistent goals through elaborate goal-setting that is coordinated over weeks. They oversee the fact that the real alignment is not visible in the target. The roles deviate away from the corporate goals with their interests. Goal setting occurs at different levels, making it difficult to achieve consistency. The mixture of short-, mid- and long-term goals further blurs the overall picture. Setting early on measurable indicators for target achievement helps all participants. However, reconciling metrics increases the effort required to set goals. If we consider the resulting complexity and interdependencies, we understand why tangled targets cannot be realized.