Beyond the organisation chart

How is role clarity at the heart of delivering value?

When the organisation structure is changed, it represents so much more than just moving boxes around on a document. How can we move away from a focus on those ‘little boxes’ to ensure people have room to do meaningful work?

1. Start with your customers’ journey

Don’t start with the organisation chart. Don’t even start with your people! Start with the customer experience. Deeply understanding what your customers want – and need – is the strongest starting point to design roles and structure. In looking at how your services provide value to your customers, you can then ask what needs to be done and how to design the work: the systems, the processes, the structure, and the roles. 

2. Reveal the purpose of your organisation and how people connect

This is a question of connections to purpose.  Every team member must be clear on the purpose of your organisation. You want to be clear on what really makes your organisation tick, and, define what you need to be great at. Discovery questions include:

  1. What is the value you provide to your customers / clients?
  2. What is the reason for the work you do?
  3. How well do you understand the work (the nature of the work, the demand and the variation)?

Often, the greatest insights stem from a real and intentional effort to find answers to such questions. Now, you will be well on your way to understanding, with new insights, what roles will enable you to deliver on real customer needs.

3. Focus on the work

There are many principles that can guide good role design such as ensuring each role includes the right balance of authority (permission to do the work) and accountability (the things a role holder can be held to account for making happen). 

Another useful principle is to focus on the work, not the individual. 

Focusing on the work doesn’t mean ignoring the social process, which is what it feels like to work in your organisation. We need to intentionally design how work gets done so that people can bring their best self to work. How will people feel if they have the authority to do a good job?  Typically, when we give people enough space in their role, then they can and do bring their best effort to the work.

Your org chart is actually the end point…not the beginning

Many organisations turn to restructuring as a way to address organisational challenges. In some instances, it’s the right thing to do. A change in context, a new strategy, or shifts in customer needs may all demand the reshaping of your organisation. When this approach is chosen by default, this can translate to never-ending ‘restructuring fatigue’ that damages leaders, employees and, potentially, customer relationships.

Starting with role clarity means you can re-shape the work to deliver value, and connect the work to the purpose of the organisation (and the division, or team).  This may lead to shifts in structure or processes that are initiated and championed by those who know the work.

The benefits of role clarity

With greater role clarity, your people will be better positioned to do the right work well. With increased role clarity you will see improved agility and organisational performance.

As well as delighted and loyal customers (who will feel more connected with your business), your employees also feel more engaged. With job roles designed to support the customer experience, more employees can be in flow, to be fully immersed in and enjoy what they do.

With a refocus on the work that delivers value to your customers, your people will be positioned to connect to the organisation’s purpose, be energised and be able to bring their best self to work. And that translates to improved customer experience.

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