Sharing Responsibility

WellBeing and Performance Agenda

Sharing Responsibility for the Future Success of the Organisation amongst everyone

Sharing Responsibility for the Future Success of the Organisation amongst everyone is the second principle of the Wellbeing and Performance Agenda that underpins the overall style and culture of the organisation, and influences the way people behave towards each other.

It is based on the combined intelligence of the workforce being greater than that of its leaders and managers, and that all organisations need as much intelligence as possible to resolve the complex adaptive, non-technical, issues that affect future success.

This item influences the whole approach to leadership, management and the expectation of employees. It is fundamental to an overt Psychological Contract and to achieving great success for the organisation.

Description of Shared Responsibility

This is a style of management that places an expectation on each employee that they are responsible for the future success of the organisation.

This means that the expectation is:

  • Complete transparency about the organisation and its management;
  • The expectation that individuals will critique any aspect of the organisation and its management;
  • Individuals focus on the success of the organisation and not its leaders and managers;
  • Leaders and managers’ actions and behaviours will be judged by employees in the context of what is best for the future success of the organisation;
  • Employees are expected to form independent judgments about how the organisation can improve and be more successful;
  • Employees are expected to provide ideas about how to make the organisation more successful in the future.

Benefits of Shared Responsibility

The approach is reinforced by Adaptive Leadership and plays directly to most of the elements that provoke psychological wellbeing and performance.

People feel responsible; they, also, feel they own the organisation and will, therefore, invest their energy into it to ensure its future success.

The approach encourages individuals to understand the whole organisation and how it works, and to make unsolicited observations about how any aspect of the organisation can be made to improve the prospects of future success.

Sharing responsibility squeezes out the threats that impede concentration and performance. It promotes kinship – the sense of sharing everything amongst the workforce – which helps create the mutual self-interest to succeed.

Implementation of Shared Responsibility

The Board of Directors need to agree this approach to leading and managing the organisation. Once that is in place, one way to facilitate change is to create a Manifesto of Freedoms, which will include:

  • Freedom to raise ‘Elephants in the Room;
  • Feedom to critically appraise any aspect of the organisation;
  • Freedom to offer unsolicited ideas for improving success, and to expect the idea to be seriously assessed for validity and implementation;
  • Freedom to identify anyone who is not helping the organisation to become more successful in the future.

Tips to Create a Culture of Sharing Responsibility for Future Success

These tips are about the genuine sharing of responsibility for the future by encouraging staff to focus on the success of the organisation and NOT on you, the manager.

You will expect independent thinking from your staff; unsolicited contributions that are aimed at achieving future success; and expect everyone to ‘take a lead’ in whatever they are doing.

You need to encourage your staff not to expect you to tell them what to do (unless it’s vitally important), but to expect you to encourage them to critically appraise the organisation and suggest areas for improvement that they would share responsibility for implementing.

Tips to Create a Culture of Sharing Responsibility

“We’re all in this together” – make this a core corporate value

‘We’re all in this together!’ – instead of leaders and managers falling back on this phrase and rhetoric when it suits them, they should use it as the core corporate value, and live the core value every day.

Share responsibility for success with your workforce rather than telling them what to do

Sharing responsibility means not telling people what to do but ensuring that everyone feels personally accountable for the future success of the organisation. Leaders and managers will continue to be held to account for the delivery of the organisation’s purpose, by Boards, Shareholders, Government, Companies House, HMRC and other relevant regulatory bodies. But, instead of leading from the front, they are in the midst of their workforce (and their clients), nurturing, encouraging and constantly engaging with everyone about everything.

Listen to what your workforce and your clients have to say and act accordingly

Most decisions in organisations are adaptive – they address challenges for which solutions are speculative. They require as much intelligence as possible to arrive at the least speculative outcome.

Listen to what the workforce has to say; listen to what clients have to say. Act on what is being said.

Make the purpose of the organisation very clear to everyone

Be very clear about the purpose of the organisation. If possible try to arrive at as succinct a definition of purpose that is possible so that everyone can talk with pride about the purpose with friends. If the purpose is only to make money, this stands the least chance of facilitating a shared responsibility for future success. Most young people are looking for a cause to follow. Make your organisation a cause they wish to join.

Make sure that everyone understands how their job contributes to the organisation’s purpose and success

Make sure that every job is linked to the organisation purpose, and that the job holder understands completely how his or her job contributes to purpose and future success.

Encourage and value everyone’s thoughts and contributions

Make sure that everyone is encouraged in making unsolicited but valid observations about any aspect of the organisation, and that the observations are acted upon.

Put the workforce at the centre of the organisation and let everyone know that’s where it stands

Make sure that in your organisation everyone understands that the workforce is at the centre of everything, that the products and services have to be at the highest possible quality and standard, and that the customer/client/patient and their needs and complete satisfaction comes next.

Be open, transparent, cultivate your workforce

Sharing responsibility is about being open, transparent, cultivating the workforce, seeking independent observations from individuals about how to improve the organisation and its processes, and responding to what is being said. There are very few leaders and managers who have more insight into how to make the future more successful than members of their workforce. Many leaders and managers come from the workforce in any event.

Know your cultural values

Try to have cultural values that reflect the sharing responsibility ethos. This can be achieved by finding out the cultural values of the workforce and using the results by clustering together the most commonly expressed values and translating them into corporate speak. Values are drivers. They are not the ‘nice to haves’. They are not aspirational; they are todays’ values, and tomorrows, and the next days and so on.

Use your cultural values

Try to ensure the cultural values are used daily to drive the organisation to future success. The values could be used as agenda items for workforce/manager meetings to ensure they are embedded and used as the basis for approaching adaptive decision making. They could be used as the basis of an approach to customer service. They should be used by everyone everywhere in the organisation.

Create a working environment that allows the workforce to perform at their peak

Try to embed an understanding that performance depends on individual capacity to concentrate on tasks needing and expected to be performed. Most people can concentrate for only so long without a break. Taking brief breaks helps concentration. So, too, does the elimination of interference.

Challenge your workforce

Create challenges for the workforce to address. Try to ensure that the workforce can rise to the challenges and fully engage in meeting them.

Really talk to your workforce

Communicate with the workforce constantly. This means expecting a response to the communication, and then responding to the response. Try to avoid broadcasting as the only means of communication. Newsletters are great, but if they are the only form of communication they hardly equate with the ethos of sharing responsibility for future success.

Foster citizenship and kinship

Foster the idea of citizenship and kinship – a feeling that everyone ‘is in this together’. Act with intelligent kindness towards others. Create a sense of ownership, where everyone shares the responsibility for future success.

Further reading

The next element of the WellBeing and Performance Agenda is:

Adaptive Corporate Culture

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A Fabulous Organisation




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