Research consistently shows that organizations with high interdependence, where work in one part of the organization depends on output from another, have higher role conflict. This can lead to situations where managers from one department come into conflict with those in another department. As CEO, it’s imperative to ensure the right frameworks are in place for delegating work across the organization in an efficient and productive way, so these situations of conflict can be avoided.
“Rules of Work” Are Necessary
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Why is it important to put these systems in place? Think about driving a vehicle in a busy city. If there are no commonly understood rules of the road – no stop signs, direction signs, or traffic lights – it would be chaos! People would not able to get where they want to go. In fact, complete gridlock would ensue. The same is true in organizations. By not having an accountability and authority framework for how work flows across the organization, work will fail. In the same way as in the driving example, without rules of the road or “rules of work” in the organization, conflict occurs and people do not understand how to work with each other. As a result? You guessed it, work does not get done, or it is done badly.
It’s the CEO’s responsibility to ensure these frameworks are in place. The right framework helps employees understand how to initiate work with others in different parts of the organization. But it also means identifying specific accountability and authority frameworks between various groups and knowing how to resolve differences as they occur.
Holding Personal Accountability For Multiple Departments
The CEO’s responsibility is twofold. On the one hand, as discussed in the previous article, accountability must be delegated appropriately down the organization. On the other hand, some of this accountabilities will be impacted by how work flows across the organization. For example, with order to delivery processes, multiple departments are involved. The order originates with the sales team. Then it passes to manufacturing who produces the order, before it gets delivered to logistics, distribution and warehousing. IT manages the system. Finance generates the invoice. Finally, the HR department tracks and generates compensation to the original salesperson for making the sale. As you can see, there are multiple departments and levels in the organization that are actively engaged at any one time.
The Single Point Of Accountability
Organizational systems often break down when there is a single manager named as the individual accountable for a process, such as the one in the example. In most cases, this person does not have the appropriate authority to make decisions to improve or resolve conflict with any part of the process. In our example, the CEO is the one individual in the organization who has the authority to decide, delegate and instruct. As the single point of accountability, the CEO is in charge of all departments and is the only one who can make decisions on issues involving affecting several departments at once.
Certainly the CEO does not do all of the work alone, and there will always be people below him or her with accountability. But ultimately, if there needs to be a change that affects the entire organization, it’s the CEO who makes the decision on the scope of the process, the points of interface, and resolves the issues that cannot be resolved lower.