Polarity Management: A Unique Leadership and Problem Solving Solution
Originally published: 09.01.13 by Wade Mayfield
If you want to bring some real clarity to the processes that drive your business, you have to remove the personalities of the individuals involved. You have to be objective. Removing existing personalities will give you a very clear picture of your “optimum company.”
Here’s a great exercise that will prove this point. You will be amazed by the results you get from this exercise. In the end, your company will run more efficiently and your people will flourish. They will know what to do, how you want it done and who to report to.
This is a very analytical approach to the processes — and processes only — that make up your business structure. And it’s the basic first step to continuous improvement for your organization. First, take a look at your company or departments without any personalities in them. This isn’t about how John runs the Service Department. It is about the end-to-end (input-to-output) steps that make up the processes that drive the department. Do this for every department or group in your company.
Now that you’ve mapped out each process, analyze each from the perspective of how
Keep your focus here on the processes in place, not on personalities. We’re taking steps to continuously improve and perfect organizational processes to optimize company capabilities. In other words, this analysis lets you look at how something is currently done versus how it might be best done.
The next step is how you want the procedures to read. It’s important to clearly articulate the optimum processes. In essence, procedures are written to map out the processes: what it is you want done, how you want it done in order to gain maximum efficiency and accuracy. Again, write the procedures for the processes down with the absence of personalities that would sway the way you are writing them.
This is the most difficult area to remain objective without interjecting personalities. At our company, we sit down as a leadership team with the stated instruction being, “Let’s review our organizational chart with no names attached, and then draw out what would be the optimum organizational chart: again, with no names attached.” If we sat down and said, “Who do we have and where do we put them?” the result would be dramatically different. We do not want a conversation centered on personalities and miss creating the right organizational structure. Again, the task is to draw out the optimum organizational structure without personalities and people’s names attached to it.
Once you have completed this exercise, you will have a clear and simple overview of your company. It is truly amazing when you go through this kind of exercise to see what is actually possible when you take the personalities out.
Why is this so important? Simply because you can never effectively evaluate people if you don’t have sound processes, procedures and organizational structure in place. All too often, and in too many businesses, when something goes wrong managers spend their time and efforts trying to find someone to blame rather than evaluating the processes for which they are responsible. The fact is, you can’t blame people if they are working under poor processes and procedures. All too often, we are asking people to work under “assumptive” processes and procedures rather than clearly defined processes and procedures. Any worker’s assumption of a work task is likely to be much different than a manager’s assumption of that task.
Creating an effective organizational chart is not an easy job, but it only gets more difficult when applying people’s personalities. Once you have established an optimum organizational chart, you can start putting the names and personalities in the boxes. As you do this, make sure you don’t chicken out and blur the lines of the organizational chart due to personalities. Remain committed to creating the right organizational structure and then coach the people you have on the importance of their role and why it is so important. Some people will have hurt feelings along the way and would have wanted a certain job title or responsibility, but, in the end, you will have an objective organizational chart to lead from with the best possible people in the correct spots.
In summary, purposeful leaders MUST be objective when creating processes, procedures and organizational structure. You have to remove personalities to do what is right. Doing this brings clarity to something that can be very complicated.
Wade Mayfield is president of Thermal Services Inc., Omaha, Neb.
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