The "Ate" Principals of Organizing
All organizations have a purpose and a goal. No matter if its a small business, a department within a large business, a fraternal group, a non-profit group, a social group, or any collection of people banded together for a common purpose. Many times fulfilling the purpose and attaining the goal can be difficult.
These "ATE" principals, when implmented in sequence, and executed with intent by a leader, are tools for organizing for a purpose, and reaching the goal.
FormulATE - A leader should begin by formulating a written purpose, including goals. The purpose must be detailed before any other step is feasible. What is the mission statement? What are the expected results? What constitutes success, and when? What should the structure be? What is the budget? What are the available assets? What are the ground rules? What are the parameters, the guidelines, the do's and dont's? The purpose should be well defined with no ambiguities. It should have a beginning, middle, and end. The middle and end may be moving targets, adjusted as the process matures.
Once the purpose is clearly defined a leader then formulates paths to weave from beginning, through the middle, and to the end. A leader must design the organization in a manner that affords the best possible path to success with the available budget and assets. A purpose should deal with expected pitfalls, challenges, and unplanned events, which are difficult to predict but can be minimized by utilizing prior experience, lessons learned and instincts. A solid formulation always includes consultation with associates, subordinates, superiors, proponents, opponents, and experts sought out to compliment the leader's knowledge. This seeking by a leader should be selective and minimal. Too much input can be harmful and time consuming, good judgement is the order of the day.
DictATE - Demoracy is wonderful, most of the time. It can be troublesome and burdensome in some situations. One of the definitions of dictate in my Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus is "lay down the law, give orders." Dictating is essential for a leader to manage a purpose. A leader must dictate the basics of the purpose, and what is expected. A leader needs to be mindful of dictation without representation. Dictates must consider the advice and counsel described above.
Poor dictation can cause major problems difficult to solve. Dictates should be in writing, well defined, and thoroughly discussed with those receiving them. There should be strong and compelling reasons for the dictate that are understood by those tasked with compliance - they need to "buy-in", and a leader needs to sell. Everyone should be on the same path working towards a common conclusion. One should never delegate to pasify one's ego.
DelegATE- A common fault in leaders is trying to do too much. To delegate is necessary - it is an art and it is hard to do. The tendency is to hang on to all the tasks because the leader doesn't have the confidence in others, or he/she hasn't the self-confidence to let go. This can be a fatal mistake. A leader must trust his/her instincts and have the strength to lead those he/she has given delegation.
A leader must find people that can accept delegation and run with it, thrive with it. A leader should only retain minimal direct responsibilities so he/she has time to lead. A leader never delegates overall responsibility, or accountability. The leader has formulated the blue print for the purpose, dictated it's path and concluCsion, delegated the details and now must be free to lead.
A mistake to avoid is delegating responsibility without the commensurate authority. In order for the delegatee to be held accountable they must have the authority to fulfill the responsibility.
CommunicATE - There is no more important talent than that of communicating. Success can never be acheived without the participants knowing the purpose, the paths, and the expected conclusion, as well as the responsibilities and authorities within the purpose. Communication is the sharing of information, it is also selling - selling the purpose, selling the paths, selling the conclusion, selling the dictation as well as the delegation.
There is a fine line between useful communication and babble. People like to know what's going on - when they know, there is a higher degree of involvement, and possiblly productivity. Any organization's most valuable asset is the people - strong communication let's them know that.
There are many forms of communication with the most common being verbal and written. The manner in which verbal communication is delivered can be friendly,caustic, sarcastic, praising, critical, or any number of other messages. These same messages can be in writing. Sometimes silence delivers a message, as does body language, tone of voice, attitude, etc. It's tricky to communicate well.
CongratulATE - People like a pat on the back. If someone performs over and above the call-of-duty, they should get a pat on the back. But, what about those that just perform within their responsibility? No extras, no going the extra mile? Yes, they should be congratulated .
An organization that is well run and successful includes individuals that have been placed in positions to suceed. Some succeed without breaking the boundaries of their responsibilities, and some excel beyond their boundary. Both of those individuals deserve congratulations. Farcical congratulations are shallow, meaningless, and can undermine those who deserve recognition. Don't congratulate to pacify.
Annual performance reviews are a bad idea - they should be abolished.(but that's a subject for a separate hub). People deserve and appreciate being congratulated on a regular basis when deserved, not once a year!