Responsibility in leading

In my last piece I talked about getting the best out of our employees and co-workers, and including giving them some responsibility for their work. Delegation is great, and as long as people do not feel out of their depth they should feel more energized. We will have more time to run and further the interests of the business and think where we are going, knowing that work is getting done on our behalf.

However, just because we have given our workers responsibility does not mean that we have given up our responsibility. It can be difficult working on one’s own as an employee in a larger organization especially, because bosses and senior managers will want something done in a certain way. It is important to check that those responsible to us are happy in what they are doing, and understand what is required of them. In particular, if they come to us and ask, we must listen and help them. It is no good waiting until they have finished the task as they see it, and then telling them we did not want it done that way, or they had misunderstood what was needed. If they have got it wrong, it is our fault, not theirs, and our responsibility for cutting them adrift.

I was reminded of this recently when I was asked to undertake a local project for a client with a particular brand, and I ended up on the wrong end of a poor relationship. Yes, I could and have completed the task in hand, and it will run quite effectively as it is. The frustrating part is, I can see ways of making it better, providing a better service to customers and giving them added satisfaction through feeling wanted, so increasing loyalty and reducing churn. The only cost will be in terms of my time, and I can get my reward directly through increasing my share of the revenue. The trouble is getting the brand owner’s permission to tweak as it will make the service slightly different but better than in the other areas in which the business operates. Of course if my idea were to be rolled out more widely, it would in my opinion make the whole brand better. However, unfortunately despite my best efforts I get no feedback, which is very frustrating.

So, do not leave your employees, workers or contractors high and dry after giving them that initial responsibility for their task. Listen to them and seek their feedback if you are not getting it. Otherwise you may be disappointed, and worse, may not allow them to improve on your original idea.

© Jon Stow 2009

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