Organizations thrive when people work hard and more importantly, understand what it is that they are accountable for. When delegation is clear and concise, everyone from the CEO down to the managers and front line workers understand what they are accountable for achieving and how that work fits into the organizational plan as a whole. At the most basic level, successful strategy implementation requires a means of delegating objectives consistently throughout the organization. An accountability and authority framework is one of the best ways of achieving this goal.

The Role of The Board of Directors

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Part of the mandate of a Board of Directors is to ensure that the CEO has what is necessary to meet long-term strategic goals with an effective framework of accountability and authority in place. A critical aspect of strategy implementation, this framework is essential for helping the CEO and managers delegate with clarity and precision down through the organization. While the board generally cannot direct employees below the CEO and should not have authority to implement this type of framework, they should make certain the CEO has such a framework in place.

Building the Framework

There are three steps involved in building an accountability and authority framework within the organization:

  • Recognizing the Value
  • Understanding the Current State of the Organization
  • Implementation

Recognizing the Value: It’s essential for the CEO to recognize and acknowledge the importance of an accountability and authority framework. In fact, part of the CEO’s value added work is making the implementation of an accountability and authority framework a priority. Acceptance and support begins with the CEO because these are organization-wide systems. In other words, while the head of HR may recognize the value in having this type of framework and may even be a driver for change, without the CEO to ensure commitment in a consistent way, it will be much harder for the HR manager to succeed. Being an advocate is beneficial, but usually not sufficient for leading organization-wide change.

Understanding the Current State of the Organization: In order to implement a significant change, the CEO needs to understand the current state of the organization. Here are two ways to do that:

  1. The least intrusive is to gauge the current effectiveness of managers through an effectiveness audit. Gauging managerial effectiveness is as easy as implementing a survey to identify perceived effectiveness of organizational systems, perceived accountability and authority of managers and what some of the key constraints or enhancers of effectiveness are in the organization.
  2. Conduct an organizational design assessment.  An organizational design assessment is a much more fundamental and comprehensive approach, which looks at the entire organization and its alignment in terms of the appropriate number and layers of managers and the alignment of accountability and authorities in the organization.

Implementation: Finally, it’s possible to implement change based on what you’ve found using best practices so that organizational systems can be appropriately aligned and put in place to support this accountability and authority framework. The result: increased clarity of delegation, line of sight from objectives back to strategic goals, and more effective managers.

The Right External Support Provides Expertise and Objective Support

From assessment to implementation, it’s ideal to use external support not only for securing objective insight, but also for utilizing the skills and expertise of someone who has the experience of working with organizations in this area. The right assistance can bring awareness to the CEO and management team that they may not have been able to arrive at independently, helping to make the process more successful overall.