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If you’ve been in the workforce for any length of time, you’ve dealt with corporate responsibility. “Whose job is that?” “Who has to approve this?” “How many signatures do I need?”
There’s a horrible trend in companies (and law firms) to pass the buck AND usurp power. Everyone wants the power, but nobody wants to take responsibility … until the project succeeds, of course!
I’m not an expert in corporate efficiency or making people happy, but I’d like to offer some thoughts on the subject anyway. If you’re feeling like there’s lots of irresponsibility at your workplace, consider these things:
Who’s the head cheese?
The simplest organization is just one person. A solo or sole proprietor is in charge of all decisions and must accept all responsibility. But he also gets all the credit for success.
When employees or partners come on board, it gets hard to tell who’s in charge. The top boss must make it clear that he’s the commander, and everyone else listens to him (or her). The underlings then know where the orders come from and who will hold them responsible for proper execution. If you’re the top boss, it’s up to you!
What’s in the middle?
When companies grow larger, middle management is the name of the game. In my opinion, this is where 95% of the confusion happens.
The head cheese can’t handle everything, especially the day-to-day matters. It’s great to hire managers or vice presidents to oversee routine functions and ensure that the grunts are working.
But what EXACTLY does middle management do?
Can they approve inventory acquisitions? Can they sign off on work orders or purchase orders? Who approves vacation requests?
You must clearly answer questions like this. Why shouldn’t they have a good portion of this authority? Otherwise, what’s the point of middle management? Do they just get cool titles?
Does anyone micro-manage?
Projects always work better when people do their jobs. The grunts do leg work, while the managers oversee it. But if the managers try to do leg work, confusion ensues!
Evaluate your company and think about people who might be micro-managing. Is the CEO signing fairly routine purchase orders? Or are mangers cranking widgets on the assembly line?
What about you?
Where does your company fit in all this? Do you know where your position fits within the company? Let’s talk!
Andrew works for a non-profit of almost 50 employees. On some days, a solo law practice looks appealing.
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