Being in charge: How to lead a company with clear responsibilities

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In a fast growing firm, there is often a lack of clarity concerning who is doing what and who is in charge of what – between and even within departments. This is because new tasks and challenges come up on a nearly daily basis and a lot of the functions that huge companies have are not ready to be filled full time yet.

For example, we just hired a full time Finance Manager/Accountant after 5 years. The standard procedure for solving these issues in bigger companies is to put the overall responsibility on the manager who then distributes the tasks to his team. But a manager is often too far away from the day-to-day business and does not see the needs that occur; this is not the way we wanted to go. Instead, we wanted every employee to take over responsibility for their own roles and also for the whole company. This means that nobody is waiting for their manager to make strategic decisions to adapt to the company’s needs, but they are coming up with ways to improve on their own – new ideas, new projects, new strategies. And this does not only apply to their tasks but also to taking over self-leadership for their own achievements and behaviour. We don’t want people to blame each other when something goes wrong but to always have a close look at their own share of the story. This is part of our concept Orga 4.0 (see my post about this here). For us, the ownership of responsibilities must be defined clearly. Everyone owns and fulfils them autonomously.

This principle is very important for our decision making process (see previous post). Everyone is aware of their tasks. He or she owns them. Also, everyone needs to know who has what responsibilities. For this, transparency is needed (another principle, I will focus on later). It helps efficient decision making, e.g. you know immediately who to approach for a certain topic. Part of this principle also is that people have to fulfil their role and the responsibilities it includes. They cannot reject them.

As always, I’m curious what other people do. How do you deal with this in your respective companies? How do you make sure everyone takes on their responsibilities?

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