Taking or Giving responsibility
It is every promoter's dream to build a business in which all employees are happy and give their best for the company they work. Why then very often the promoters are not able to realize their dream? Is it lack of commitment, absence of focus, wrong atitude or simply the responsibility is not shared by all in the company.
In most of the organizations management has to take the blame for failures and credit for success. People generally associate bad fnancial results to bad management, internal politics to divisive management practices and good resultants to mature management. By limiting the focus of good and bad results of an organization to role of the management are we not trying to simplify the functioning of organization, give more than required importance to management and give no role in shaping organizational destiny to staf member?
I am not questioning the premise of majority that there exists good and bad management/ managers but the obsession of management consultants to tie the destiny of organizations to only management/ managers. Isn't the role of staf member equally important for success or failure of any organization? Aren't there good and bad staf? Does it not make sense to do away with obsessive focus on role of manager and replace it with role and responsibility for everyone in the organization to shape the destiny of the organization?
Is responsibility perceived diferently at workplace and in other situations such as at home or school?
To illustrate, let me take you through a real life example which is not uncommon for all of you to experience. When my daughter did badly in her grade eight semester exams my wife was quick to blame the girl and not the school, but when she did not meet her annual sales target at ofce, she was quick to blame the management for not having a clear sales and marketing plan and asking her to sell a product that is difcult to push to prospective customers.
Who can be held accountable in both the cases mentioned above? Was not my wife unfair to the girl to blame her solely for her performance while abdicating the role of school in the performance of the girl? In her case was she also not responsible for not being able to meet the sales target?
In both the cases it is easy to notice that all involved, the school, the girl and the parent in the frst case and organization and wife in the second case are equally responsible for the fnal outcome. Both need to own and solve the problem and have to contribute for a beter result and relationship.
In the case of girl it was very easy to fx the problem of low grades by talking to the teacher and understanding the strength of the teacher, role of parent and limitations of the girl. A proper corrective action plan arrived and worked with teacher, girl and parent as a mediator helped to solve the problem of bad grades permanently.
In case of wife and her management the problem seems to linger for absence of responsibility to own the problem. She blamed the management for her failure and the management questioning her commitment.
In organizations, who is responsible for ensuring good relationship between all. One of our clients had a serious problem in their fnance department which was afecting the performance of the company as a whole. The accountant there felt that his manger was not good at delegating tasks and kept information to himself. From the manager's perspective the accountant was untrustworthy and had negative atitude towards the department and the company.
In situations of this type who is responsible for improving the relationship? Who should take the initiative to solve the problem; the fnance manager, accountant or both?
Although in this case both the parties and the organization would beneft by resolving the problem, most people would tend to expect the fnance manager to resolve the confict and improve the relationship.
Why can't all of us solve and share organizational problems the way we solve and share our domestic problems? Why can't we discuss and improve our personal relationship within our organizations so that both the individuals and organization get benefted.
Critics would question the wisdom of applying personal relationship chemistry at organizational level based on the premise that in organizations management only has the power to control unlike at home where one partner does not control the other. Hence the argument of the critics is that management alone should take responsibility for the results, good or bad of the organization.
In reality it is naïve to believe that staf would bring out their best for the organization when the focus and responsibility is on shoulders of the management. If the superset is the organization then management, staf and other stakeholders all form a subset and all subsets have to take responsibility in well being of every other subset and the super set.
What prevents all employees from contributing to success of the organization they work for? Do all of us not understand our responsibility? The answer to this question when tossed to any employee would be a negative.
Is responsibility given to individual or taken? My Mathematics teacher at school three decades ago was never given a stick by the school when she joined the school. However, whenever she came to the class she carried a stick with her and never hesitated to use it when some unruly boy or a girl tried to disturb the class and break the concentration of the class in understanding the complexity of Leibnit formula or Bayes theorm. All her students graduated with distinctions in Mathematics because she had taken the responsibility to ensure that all her students did well in her subject.
To conclude Responsibility is something that is never given to someone but has to be taken voluntarily, it is a pleasure; it is desirable for organizational well being. Responsibility should not be seen as satisfying one's ego, burden or nuisance that needs to be carried as part of organizational duty.
At staf level, an individual should take responsibility and not wait for management to give responsibility. Taking responsibility is one of the best decisions that any individual can make to live meaningful life at personal and organizational level.