"Shared Accountability" ... A Paradigm for "Better Work in Better Lives™"
V. 1.2 6-15-11 DMa
1. Most organizations and workers continue to use “reciprocal entitlement" for framing their work relationship.
Today many leaders and supervisors continue use traditional workforce strategies in the way they form and maintain relations with workers that is centered upon pay, benefits, work conditions and a limited view of management. This tends to be a paternal model at its core. As an effect of this approach, they confidently consider themselves to be entitled to a “good day’s work” from workers (who "should be appreciative that they have a job!"). One only needs to examine the language or various terms used to recognize symptoms of implicit "ownership" to "rights of entitlement." Such indications are seen in phrases such as "my/our people," "we have retention issues;" or command and control attitudes, forced-ranking practices, unilateral performance "reviews;" and common terminology such as human "resources," and more recently, human "assets" and human "capital" (as if never hearing of the Emancipation Proclamation).
Conversely today, workers show-up and perform their functions in this paternal setting. As they do so, this causes them to also believe they're entitled to ever-increasing financial compensation, “job security” and advancements ... simply by their presence, acceptable effort, apparent loyalty and the implicit messages of their organization.
This “bond of reciprocal entitlement” has been the predominant model of workplace relations across the industrial age. Although often hidden, unexamined, unarticulated (… or perhaps denied; ... and yes, weakened, fractured and shaken over the last few decades), reciprocal entitlement defines the roots of relationships between an organization and a worker.
Legacy models of HR and much of today's "talent management" are evolutionary methods serving to facilitate organizational entitlement, and as such, outfitting management with one-size-fits-all "carrots and candy" (and "sticks and shunts" for challenging situations).
Equally, labor unions are evolutionary extensions of entitlement architectures, equipping workers when the need is seen for fighting imbalanced entitlement with imbalanced entitlement.
At this entitlement's worst, it produces dysfunctions and forms of business risks such as communications breakdowns, apathy, disenfranchisement, conflict, rationalization, abuse, acrimony, denial, despair, failure and blindside exits or terminations. Even at 2-way entitlement's best, the full potential of people is rarely unleashed, or seldom are the potentials of organizational innovation, competitiveness, productivity, wealth creation, waste reduction and risk mitigation fully realized.
In many ways entitlement-based workforce architectures have worked well across the last centuries (and are still working satisfactorily in some workplaces today when only having "good work" suffices). In this theory, workers are sought solely to be "labor " employed in jobs to operate the assets of business at minimum levels of standardized, relatively static, functional performance within relatively stable operating conditions. This generates many artifacts such as one-sided, anemic job descriptions, the unilateral annual performance reviews and periodic worker "engagement " or "satisfaction" surveys, etc.
Many "progressive and innovative” organizations are simply tossing excessive money and a wider range of perks to ensure that they can be more "deserving of entitlement," thus reliably continuing or more strongly enforcing this model of workforce relations. Over the last decades, many have begun labeling these "innovative" approaches with terms such as “human capital” or “talent” management, ironically both terms indicative of entitlement thinking. In entitlement architectures, compensation has a distinct financial bias, and workers are generally viewed as a business “expense,” not a strategic “investment.” Strangely, even with organization's growing contempt for waste, upping the entitlement ante by throwing money at the problem seems unnoticed by leadership.
But for some organizations simply being entitled to "good" work is no longer enough. The best seek something better. Equally, for many "high-potential workers" simply having a "job" is no longer enough. The best are seeking more.
2. Reciprocal entitlement is too weak and risky for many organizational realities; and conversely, it's too dangerous for many workers’ personal objectives and security.
Organizations and workers generally have far greater demands, competition, pressures and rates of change than existed within the Industrial Age. Standardized minimum functional performance will no longer suffice to meet aggressive business plans, innovative business models, investor expectations and the whitewater of change. Organizations can no longer depend on their "labor bird cage."
While 2-way entitlement practices and behaviors by leaders and supervisors can create "good" work, it seldom achieves and sustains the "great work" that organizations now need to survive and thrive. Talented workers possessing higher potential with a broader, deeper range of skills and cognitive abilities are needed to better respond within the daily shifting organizational circumstances.
Such high-potential workers are discerning in their workplace choices and require substantial investments in constant development and coaching. Great workers have many lucrative options from which to choose. These high-potential workers also personally demand more from life, their work, their workplace, their supervision and themselves. Organizations must now create and maintain "talent bird feeders."
In such a dynamic setting, there's no longer a place for entitlement thinking by either party. Entitlement tends to breed disabling degrees of status quo comfort, indifference and ambivalence in leaders and supervisors at every level, and within workers of every profession. The time for fundamental remodeling of workforce principles, thought and practices has arrived. This timely (and in some cases urgent) need for change goes to the core, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for both businesses and workers’ lives.
What to do?
3. Many organizations and workers are awakening. Work relationships must be (radically) transformed. They must have “shared accountability.”
We believe the only reasonable, reliable and practical path for leaders, supervisors and workers seeking step function improvement is to transform the underpinnings of the work relationship. Each must move away from the old paradigm of shared entitlement to one that is much more potent - shared accountability.
- Two-way accountability offers better results, yields and rewards that both parties seek and need to respond to their present realities.
- By accountability being a two-way street, each party can reliably know and respond to meet each other’s needs and requirements from work in an accurate, consistent and powerful manner. Shared accountability will produce the most secure, most durable and least risky work relationships.
- As each party applies and masters the new paradigm, they'll produce "magnetic" forces within the work relationship. These magnetic forces will either attract, or repel, one, or both, of the parties, … as it should, for strong, healthy business circumstances and empowered careers.
QR™ is a compelling, universal framework for shared accountability within any work role relationship,
for accountability equals quality
in durable, high-gain work relationships.
4. Five "building blocks" are essential for successfully transforming a workplace from reciprocal entitlement into shared accountability...
The essential building blocks for achieving and sustaining shared accountability are:
A. Leadership realizing that shared accountability is an essential and urgent component of business strategies, competitive operations, innovation and financial performance. Accordingly, they are willing to personally offer the change leadership required to ensure that the organization will have a better, more secure future.
B) As such, leadership acknowledges that the universal principles of Relationship Performance™ (rp™) are the most reliable, timely and proven path for accomplishing and sustaining shared accountability throughout their workforce. They take action to disseminate this better view of work realities into the workforce with discussions and education at all levels of supervision.
C. Supervisors and workers at all levels are outfitted with simple, fast and easy tools plus comprehensive support so each may quickly adopt, practice and enjoy shared accountability.
D. Supervisors and workers at all levels share information monthly as to the quality of accountability that is present within their work relationship (aka: QR Snapshots™). As they do so, everyone is provided with rpScoreboards™ so they can also view composite baseline, present and trending information from their workplace.
E. Whenever there are deficits, issues or concerns related to the quality of QR in place between worker and supervisor, each provides reasonable and timely attention for resolution or remedy through dialog and agreement.
5. Are there clues or evidence that indicates shared accountability is truly in place at work?
Each party accepts their "ownership" and responsibility for the level of quality that is, or is not, present within the work relationship. Examples of clues and evidence are:
- Each party stays informed and attentive regarding their work relationship quality by creating and reviewing monthly QR Snapshots™.
- Each knows, applies and practices Relationship Performance and its organizing principles.
- Performance of every function is recognized in shared responsibilities for that performance.
- When issues, problems or opportunities arise, their first thoughts are "let me understand my accountability and do my part in a timely, accurate manner to pursue resolution."
- There's no knee-jerk finger-pointing, fault-finding, blame-gaming, whining or victim-viewpoints by either party. Each party owns the quality of the relationship and collaborates with the other to reasonable solutions.
- Each party diligently applies and leverages the power of "dialog", "agreement" and "choice."
- Both parties achieve their objectives through well-designed work roles that are balanced to assure that each party's needs are being accurately met.
- Work is "magnetic." Optimal people, best organizations and strong supervisors are powerfully attracted to each other. Conversely, suboptimal workers, supervisors and organizations are repelled.
- Compensation is considered holistically by both parties and appreciated to encompass far more than money, benefits and "tangibles."
- Disabling terms and language is prevented or resisted.
- Work roles are created and executed by design using the Universal Work Role Framework™ (UWRF™).
6. What if we fail to change, and instead hold fast to our present architecture of reciprocal entitlement?
Only you, your situation and future can provide this answer.
If all of your present and future operating and competitive conditions remain the same as those that were in your past, (perhaps) all will be fine.
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