Do You Know How Structure Affects Engagement?

Engagement is a buzzword in organizations these days.  Most often engagement references an aspect of employee involvement. Since our first post we’ve introduced a comprehensive and robust use of the term.  The etymological origins of engage/engagement are under pledge/formal promise. I recall my mentor, Dr. Elliott Jaques emphasizing the importance of the employment contract between an employee and the company for which they worked.  This contract, sometimes unwritten and subtle is at the core of all employed work.  People agree to do X and in return the company agrees to do Y.  Thus solidifying the pledge /formal promise on the part of both parties.   Consequently, we at BEI see organization engagement as more complex. Organization engagement incorporates not only the employee’s agreement to perform the tasks assigned within quality standards, time and within resource allocation applying their personal effectiveness but also the responsibility and accountability of the organization’s management structure towards providing the conditions and resources within which the employee can best complete their assignments.  When this context is present a sense of engagement flourishes throughout.  

 An engaged organization is characterized by trust, open communication between managers and those in roles subordinate to them, and a network of role relationships that enables work to be done with clearly articulated accountabilities and authorities.

 Essential to the development of an engaged organization is the understanding and knowledge of how work is done. Appreciating the importance of a network of role relationships consisting not only of the managerial hierarchy (better known as who reports to whom), but also the lateral relationships, which support business process flow.

  A few weeks ago I said I’d be addressing the invisible aspects of organizations. You might imagine an iceberg.  Less than a third of it is visible to the naked eye.  One could make the argument organizations are similar.  For most companies the organization chart illustrates the structure.  Upon closer scrutiny these charts don’t distinguish which roles might be larger than others, or more complex.  They illustrate who reports to whom.  They don’t indicate how work gets done, who accounts to whom, and what roles have what authorities over other roles.  The organization structure is the network of role relationships in a company.  It exists even if there are no people in the roles.  Each role has tasks, accountabilities and authorities associated with it.  Clarity about the structure allows you to fill the roles with the right people.  Having the right people in the right roles is key to organization effectiveness.  All too often we focus on people not the role.  This puts the company at a disadvantage.  We need companies working at peak performance, totally engaged.  Wouldn’t you agree?

 An EngagedOrg Audit uses objective measurement to provide new knowledge about your organization.  The audit analyzes specific “reporting spines” identifying places of weakness and strength.  Referring back to the iceberg metaphor, it makes visible what was formally not visible.

 This knowledge allows you to align the organization’s structure with critical business objectives.  Having the right roles with clearly articulated accountabilities and authorities, and the right people in those roles creates the basic conditions to sustainably engage your people in meeting goals and achieving profitability.  It results in an engaged organization.

 Let’s strengthen corporate America by creating engaged organizations based on trust, effectiveness and the American work ethic.