In a start up everybody must do everything. There are no set roles and few set rules. When something needs to be done, it gets done. If the copier paper needs replacing, do it. If we need to develop an ad campaign, or decide on a supplier, do it.
As a business Scales Up however, eventually the mindset where everyone does every job or task, can lead to an absence of accountability, and this can become incredibly frustrating for both employee and employer. Who really wants to work in an environment where you don’t know exactly what is expected of you, or in fact what you need to do well in order to succeed?
I was speaking with my brother the other day who was disappointed in a co-worker when he asked if she would help him meet a deadline by arranging copying of some documents. Her response was ‘that isn’t my job’. Perhaps, depending on her job role that was either appropriate or borderline misconduct. Either way, is it always a bad thing when staff say it’s not my job?
It’s not my job
Let’s start with the assumption that results in an organisation must have accountability. For example imagine one role is accountable for revenue, another for leads and perhaps another for on time delivery. If you map all the results in a business that are required to operate, and place KPI’s against each one, what else is left? What falls through the cracks?
Very little if people are accountable for results, instead of being responsible.
Accountability can only apply to one person who is solely responsible for the result by the due date. Accountability cannot be shared or delegated, but responsibility can be.
Responsibility applies to multiple people, where often things could not be done alone.
And that’s the problem. As a business transitions from Start Up to Scale Up, at some point, people must become accountable for results. For example at a start up revenue is a shared responsibility. For a Scale Up a sales manager or sales executive is accountable for revenue. Of course this accountability ensures the sales manager focusses her efforts on the accountable result of revenue, most likely her specialty, and shouldn’t get distracted by marketing, operations, or any other aspects of the business.
At Gazelles, we use the Function Accountability Chart or FACe to map accountability for each function and then the leading and lagging KPI’s for each role. Almost every time I run the FACe exercise for the first time with a leadership team, I observe the Start Up mentality still holding the company back. There are people with multiple roles, of which they are often unable to do any role very well because they are pulled in different directions, and because there is so much shared responsibility, there is virtually no accountability.
This means the founder / CEO ends up with all the accountability, and that leads to stress, frustration and an early grave.
Here are the 3 reasons it’s good to hear staff say ‘it’s not my job’
1. Staff understand their job role and what they are (and aren’t) accountable for
Have you ever seen a job advert with a lengthy job description and 15 KPI’s? What does the author want the successful candidate to focus on? Which of the KPI’s is the highest priority? Which 20% of results will ensure success in the role by forgetting the other 80%? If as the successful candidate I never, ever work on KPI number 12, but produce double the results for KPI number 2, will I likely keep my job and get a promotion?
People deeply appreciate understanding what is expected of them and become frustrated in an environment where they don’t know what is expected of them or how they are measured.
If you have mapped out the results in your business and which role is accountable for which result or process, there should be no overlaps, and important things should not be getting missed.
2. People have the opportunity to thrive
Imagine one of the best people in your industry joins your company. If you don’t demonstrate what is expected of them, the results the are required to achieve and what they are not required to do, will they thrive? Or if they don’t know what results need to be achieved, is it in fact possible for them to thrive?
There is a reason that every sport involves roles, rules and measurement, because it drives the human spirit.
In the same way that great people have the opportunity to thrive, when each person is held accountable to results, for the people who are lazy or poor performers, there is nowhere to hide.
3. Business output and results soar
After a leading and lagging KPI is set for every role in your business with all results and processes accounted for (think every line item on financial reports) and each of those 2 KPI’s has a Red, Green and Supergreen (stretch) target and these have been operating for some time, people prioritise the right things and after a period of time business output and results soar. Equally less time is wasted doing things which are not important.
Why? Because people are focussed on doing things which are their job.