Responsibility - Response·Ability
Responsibility is, by the very nature of the word response-ability, the capacity to react to changing circumstances. Giving someone responsibility is therefore the act of empowering an individual to take autonomous action:
- the ability to assess a situation
- weigh the possibilities to react
- come to a conclusion
- and then act on it
In most organizations the circuit is broken after step 3. This confines the output to zero.
Are you empowering your people with the ability to respond?
Checkpoint 1: Cultural incapacitating
When a team member approaches you with an idea, do they typically present you with one or several options to take action?
If yes, the circuit is broken at step 3 and you missed out on a whole bunch of opportunities someone could have explored in step 1 and 2, but dismissed them out of fear that they would not be approved anyway.
Checkpoint 2: Micro Management
When a team member approaches you with an issue, how do you respond?
Do you inquire more information (1), ask them to compile all the options for reacting (2), task them to find best approach for a solution in order to approve it (3)?
Moving towards a solution-oriented culture:
1 - Enable
Give people a general guideline along the lines of: "if your expect it doesn't take longer than x, just go ahead and solve it".
2 - Communicate
This is a great chance to introduce more effective feedback mechanisms - people simply working and failing doesn't accomplish much, after all.
Make it a team activity to share what issues everyone has overcome and - just as importantly - which ones they have tackled but couldn't solve in a given time frame.
Pro tip for boosting team effectiveness: Ask everyone to share their top learning of what was incredibly effective, and what didn't work at all.