Do you agree that there are six core needs of continuous organization development–communication, authority, collaboration, responsibility, accountability, and coordination? I ask this because my own research is consistently showing this to be so.
As of today I’ve conducted and analyzed employee opinion data representing over 12,000 employees at over 300 workplaces. Using results from just the past 10 years I find consistent outcomes regardless of type of work, location, and demographics.
The data conclusively shows a strong correlation among effective systems of authority, responsibility, accountability, communication, collaboration, and coordination. I’ve come to call this the 6-System Network, a model that shows strong interconnectivity among core organizational factors.
Employees agree in the research that “authority” should optimally mean delegating and distributing power and leadership as far from the center as possible. This means giving timely support and it means minimalizing the need for sign-offs and approvals. “Responsibility” is defined as ensuring that everyone knows what is expected of them, that they have the proper training to do their job, and that their job descriptions are current to the tasks at hand. “Accountability” means quickly holding everyone accountable for what they are responsible for. It means fair and transparent application of both penalties and rewards and it means effective conflict resolution.
Employees in the research agree that optimum “communication” means both listening and sharing; it means ensuring there are common definitions to terms related to performance and actions; it means being both timely and relevant in all communication and it means putting substance before slick public relations (the “beef” before the “brand”). Good “coordination” is defined as having everyone who’s involved in a common purpose knowing who is doing what, when, how, and why. And it means effective and timely information sharing. Finally, employees agreed that effective “collaboration” means establishing linkages between diverse groups or teams with common goals and a shared purpose. And it means consensus seeking and transparency.
Not performing well on any or many of the measures is a recipe for problems. One of the most common sad refrains from employees is “Oh yeah, I’m held accountable all right, but my responsibilities are unclear and I don’t have the authority to make decisions that matter.”
The research shows strong positive correlations among the six factors. It means doing well on even one measure can have a positive impact of others. More importantly, application of the findings to a real world workplace has shown vast improvements in job satisfaction, morale, employee engagement and service delivery. Where positive action is stymied is when a change to one of the systems is contingent upon changing a well-entrenched organization structure and culture. So what do you think? Do you see these six factors often emerging in your practice?