Aligning on roles and responsibilities is important especially in a complex matrix organization where there are lots of people working on a lot of different things, in different departments. As organizations grow, teams start to migrate into their own silos and what used to work in a small team sometimes doesn’t scale to a larger team. This creates unnecessary handoffs, dissatisfaction, inefficiencies, and lost economies of scale.
Occasionally at different parts of an organization’s growth cycle, it’s important to re-evaluate the goals, strategies and focuses of the company and re-align the roles, responsibilities and interactions of the teams. Start by asking the following questions:
Oftentimes, the leadership at the top thinks things are going fine, but from the perspective of the analysts and mid-level managers, there are role misalignments shown through duplicated work, or two departments thinking that they own something. That leads to a lot of inefficiencies and wasted time spent doing lower-value tasks in favour of higher value ones that better contribute to the organization’s strategic goals.
Change management is crucial with any roles and responsibilities change. Some academic models address this pretty extensively, but what impacts the success of any large change is rallying the group around a shared vision.
The entire team needs to be clear on what the vision or the goal is behind this change, and why something is changing. Getting the team clear and aligned on these two factors will help in eliminating a lot of the hesitation or doubt that that might come up in the process.
In terms of communication, integrating that new communication into the pre-existing day-to-day communication that happens naturally within teams is one of the best ways to get a new message out. For that to work, it’s essential to have change leaders and supporters within the team who are going to be champions for that change across the team.
While there are tools and academic models that exist to help companies through this, it’s important not to solely rely on them because many people will not connect or resonate with an academic or technical model. Instead, integrate the goals of the change into the language that the organization uses day-to-day. That way, it feels as natural as possible to the employees and is something that they’re comfortable using.
In organizations that are misaligned, every decision or a lot of decisions that are critical for the day-to-day are stuck in approval loops, which are much higher than they need to be. While there are finance and accounting concerns that need to be taken into account, operationally day-to-day these decisions need to be made much quicker.
One of the key ways in which roles and responsibilities alignment increase the speed and effectiveness of decision making is to keep those approval loops at the appropriate level or eliminate them completely. They would be replaced with regular reviews of those decisions and their results to continue to have a pulse on the outcomes of those decisions, but be less hindering to the productivity and speed of those decisions.
The speed of communication is one aspect of efficiency in roles and responsibilities alignment. Typically, we see processes that happen daily, weekly or quarterly that weave their way through several employees and even departments. At each of those handoff points, you have to wait for the other employee to move the process along. Each additional handoff in the process creates friction in communication and reduces the speed of that process. Even more so when there are vague expectations set on due dates for deliverables or who is responsible for what.
Realigning those roles and responsibilities can reduce handoffs between departments, and improve the clarity of expectations, which improves speed and effectiveness of communication.
Best Practices to Create Team Alignment
First, the leadership team needs to align on a vision and the values for this change (i.e. what’s the vision for the final result and what was the reason for this change?). When the leadership team is presented as a unified front, a change can come together, and it can bring disparate teams together.
Second, any vision for an organizational change affecting multiple people and departments needs to be communicated internally from the leadership team rather than imposed externally.
The Poirier Group helps organizations create alignment across their people, processes, strategy and technology to achieve high performance. Our strategic management consultants bring a wealth of real-world operations experience gained from working in the industries we consult in and work hand-in-hand with our clients to bring about sustainable change.
Tell me a little about your career path. What made you get into consulting? (Life experiences, skillset, a mentor etc.)
“I’m an industrial engineer, so I have a similar background to a lot of TPG employees, but my interest in consulting was born out of wanting to go more into the business side of things, rather than sticking to strictly engineering. So after the first couple of roles I had, I shifted towards sales and business roles. What I like about that is it gave me a little bit of background into how business decisions get made and how to provide value to the business through sales, revenue growth, or cost reduction.
“Going into the roles that taught me about business, I found that I really liked project-based work and I enjoy the challenge of starting a project, having a set goal, going through the project plan, pivoting and adjusting throughout and coming to an end goal that the client is aligned to, and then helping them achieve it. So that’s what drew me into this line of work. After that, I learned about TPG, learned about David and connected with the firm and the rest is history.“
What is something you are passionate about outside of your job role?
“I have a pilot’s license. I like to get in a small single-engine plane and just fly around the area. I find it’s a calming exercise when you’re in the plane and don’t have a lot of brain capacity or space in your brain to think about anything other than keeping the plane safe and getting to the destination safely. You’re trying to be in the moment while also figuring out what the next five minutes or ten minutes will bring and how to get to the destination safely. So, in a way, there are parallels with how a project is run. It’s just on a much smaller scale.
“I also used to do a weekly volleyball league. But now with COVID, it’s on hold. But I’m looking forward to getting back into that soon.”
What initially drew you to TPG?
“What drew me to TPG is that part of our values, and part of our fabric is that we work hand in hand with the client, to solve their issues. Whereas some consulting firms go in and produce a slide deck, and then tell the customer, “here you go, see you later”. Our goal is to help the client and carry them through the change, and not just propose the change and move on. What drew me into TPG, and what helps me get through every day, is the fact that we are hand in hand working with the client, seeing the results of our work, and getting the client to the project goals that they have set.“