When one Hand doesn’t know what the other Hand is doing,
You could Shoot Yourself in the Foot!
We all know the famous saying “When you ‘ass/u/me’ it makes an a** out of u and me!”
While that might be a clever way to remember how to spell the word, it’s also good, solid advice! In my three decades working with troubled companies, I’ve found this saying to be especially pertinent when it comes to organizational charts and job descriptions.
Whenever I meet with a client for the first time, I ask to look at their organizational chart. Often, if they have one, business owners and managers hand over a piece of paper with all kinds of titles that are connected to a hierarchy of bars and lines running down the page. They are usually neat and tidy and seem pretty self-explanatory.
I start by asking what each person does. Rarely, does anyone have written job descriptions they can show me, so they look up at the ceiling searching for the answer…
“Well Bob reports to my partner Joe and is in charge of sales. He tracks our monthly earnings, inventory and oversees Accounts Receivable, which is run by Joan who also handles Customer Service and Marketing…”
Okay… so far so good. Sounds like the owner is on top of things around here.
But later that day, I sit down with Bob. “So, Bob, tell me what your job description is.” Bob doesn’t have anything in writing, but it doesn’t matter, because he knows what he does. He proceeds to tell me that he goes out on sales calls three days a week and oversees inventory.
“What about Accounts Receivable?” I ask. “I was told you oversee that too.”
“No,” he chuckles, “Sue handles that.”
“Okay, got it. So Sue runs Accounts Receivable, which is administrated by Joan?”
“No, Joan takes care of Customer Service.”
“What about Marketing? Who covers that?” I continue.
“Marketing? Do we have someone in charge of that here? Hmmm… if we do I sure didn’t know about it.”
“Who do you report to?”
“I guess I report to Steve and Joe, the owners. I’m not really sure though…no one ever really told me.”
Left hand… meet right hand. I know you’ve never been formally introduced but that’s because management was making the “assumption” that their org chart matched up with what they thought their employees were doing. That clearly wasn’t the case — so now, one of you please prepare to shoot yourself in the foot because when one of you doesn’t know what the other is doing, it creates voids and cracks, it confuses the customers and things don’t get done. Ultimately, it will cause your business to crumble down around you.
Often, when a company can’t point to an obvious reason for declining results, the lack of an accurate org chart and written job descriptions that are then shared with the entire team, is one of the main reasons. That’s why it’s critical to have these things clearly laid out from the start. In my experience, having to go back through and unwind a tangled mess of “who does what” and “who reports to whom” can be a big headache for everyone.
Simply put, an up-to-date org chart with official job descriptions, and a well-run, high functioning business go hand in hand. If you don’t have basic systems such as these in place, or, if you haven’t updated things in a while, now is the time to make it a top priority if you want to ensure the continued health and well-being of your business.
New Growth Advisors has been providing these and other services to businesses of all sizes for nearly 30 years. For more information please contact Sonny directly at 513-489-7399.