A wise man, Geoff Wilson once shared with me, the easiest way to determine if your team is completely confused about who to go to in times of uncertainty. He said usually when your team is confused on who to go to, they will send an email to more than 1 exec / and don’t call out which exec is needed to make a call. This happens most in companies who move fast, people get promoted fast, and re-orgs happen every few years.
I don’t have partners at my company but at Geoff’s, they do. And he knew they needed clear lines of which person to go to, he used email to snuff out the times when it wasn’t clear.
Does your team send out messages like this to your exec team:
Hey Folks, blah blah blah happened, what should I do?
When that happens it means they don’t have a clear line of sight as to who should be their main problem solver.
It’s not their fault they don’t have a clear path, it’s yours.
Here are email openings that are emailed to a group of leaders where your team doesn’t know which one makes the decisions:
“Person1 & Person2”
or email to a managers list, exec list with a specific problem but not pointing to a specific person to respond.
Diffusion of responsibility
The larger your company gets, the less inclined people are to help when someone asks.
More broadly, anytime you email a list in a growing company with hey guys, team, etc, you are begging to not get a response, because everyone thinks someone else will get to it, it’s human nature. Its the bystander effect.
The minute I was told this I started cataloging every time it happened, it’s so easy to see. That small piece of advice has made me HYPER cognizant just by looking in the to line, I can assess where our company may not be giving people really clear direction.
A confused team, works more slowly, they are unsure of next steps, and who to go to, so where you can snuff that out, you should, your team will thank you for it.
Go forth and name the people you specifically need help from, I bet you’ll get more responses, and much faster.
And if you can help me, I’d love examples of how companies have broken larger companies/teams into smaller ones to help minimize diffusion of responsibility.