From the Ask Tom mailbag –
You talk about setting context, that context is the crucible in which management behaviors exist. How do you more specifically define that context and where should managers begin?
Every role in an organization exists with other roles. Individual action, more specifically, individual accomplishment is a myth. No one is an island. Every organizational behavior affects another part of the organization. Context is the way we define those working relationships.
The two most critical elements to be defined in a working relationship are accountability and authority. To be effective in any role relationship requires that each person understands the accountability (output) and authority in that relationship.
In a given relationship between a manager and a team member, who has the authority to make a decision about the way a problem should be solved? If you suggested the manager, you would be correct.
But, might that lead to autocratic decision making, where a manager might run rough-shod over the team?
It might, were it not for a specific accountability. The manager has the authority to make the decision, but also the accountability to collect relevant data around that decision, which, in many cases will come directly from the team. Theoretical conditions must be matched with actual conditions. Theoretical materials must be matched with actual materials on hand, available consumables, machine uptime, even temperature and humidity. Along with every authority, must come accountability.
Editor’s note – this is not usually the case with a government oversight committee, who would like to think they have all the authority with no accountability. Every authority comes with accountability.