I was once appointed to a new position as the Publicity Manager for a government organisation. My staff were to include the Librarian and the Reception staff.
- Providing answers to public enquiries was the responsibility of various professional staff in a diverse range of areas. These specialist staff also produced and stored their own publicity brochures.
- The job of the reception staff was to simply refer phone and counter enquiries to the relevant specialist officer. If the specialist was in the field (a necessary part of the work) the enquiry had to wait until the officer was next in the office
Clearly significant changes needed to be made. I instructed that the following steps be taken:
- All brochures to be centrally stored within the Publicity Unit, for my staff to manage including stock control and arranging reviews before re-printing.
- Reception staff to themselves provide answers to all but the more complex enquiries (remembering these reception staff were generally low-paid with little opportunity to use their initiative)
- The Librarian would use her information skills to supervise day to day publicity services.
The transition caused some ripples throughout the organisation at first (some feeling their patch was being invaded). My hitherto under-appreciated staff went into mild panic too, wondering how they would ever learn the answers to public enquiries.
Yet within weeks the new arrangement was up and running well. How come? I had given my team the responsibility and authority to establish the new system and make it work. If I saw gaps in their proposal I would respond with “ good thinking, but what would you do if such and such happened?” leaving them to work out the answers. Because the staff created it themselves they felt they owned it. They had proved they were up to the task and greatly appreciated having their abilities valued. The specialist staff were in awe of how well – and how quickly - it worked and how much better the new arrangements were serving them and their clientele.
You want to get the greatest productivity, commitment and job ownership from your people? Give them the responsibility and the authority while still being ready to back them when problems occur. You will be rewarded with faithful, reliable and committed staff who take pride in what they are doing. And not unexpectedly, you still get the kudos for the results your team produce.