Why was the work commissioned?
The President of a North American mining/refining/smelting operation employing several thousand people was concerned that the members of his executive team were not concentrating on the right kind of work for the business. From his own observations, the President believed that a number of his team members were doing work that was too narrow and too short in time frame, probably work they should be delegating. The President was unsure why this was occurring. He had several theories about why. These included 1) That some team members might not be “up” to their roles, 2) that some team members were more recently promoted and might not have adjusted to the kind of work now required of them, 3) that some team members lacked sufficient resources/time to get to the right kind of work, 4) that some team members might just like doing more “hands on” work or 5) there was not the understanding in the team overall of what was required.
While the President had held some discussions with his people about the issue, he decided that it would be useful to obtain the perspective of someone external to the organization and to address it for the whole team.
What was done?
A workshop was held for the President and his team to clarify the kind of work that was expected from them and why. The President provided specific examples of the kinds of work he was expecting from the executive team compared with other kinds of roles in the organization. This allowed the team to “calibrate” expectations.
Each member of the team then had a one on one session with the consultant. This session provided the opportunity for individual team member to describe their main tasks and discuss how these compared with what was expected of them. In most cases, it became evident that there was some gap. Reasons for why this gap might exist were explored with the consultant. In a few cases, team members had difficulty identifying the expected tasks. It was agreed that the consultant would provide a summary of these discussions to the President.
Team members subsequently scheduled a one on one meeting with the President to discuss their session with the consultant and to discuss the implications for their own work performance.
What were the outcomes?
- The President and team members were able to use this exercise over the subsequent months when discussing work performance.
- A number of team members used this exercise to recalibrate their work or to better utilise resources in their area.
- In a subsequent restructure the President was able to utilise this information to determine placement of team members into roles.