Always Be Ready to Sell Your Business: Part 4 of 5

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Travis McAshan
Published Dec 2012
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A team with well-documented roles and responsibilities is a happy team.

One ingredient of a great company culture is one where accountability is king.

Clear Definitions of Roles & Responsibilities

Welcome to Part 4 of our 5 part series, ‘Always Be Ready To Sell Your Company’ that addresses many of the common areas of improvement that, if addressed, can keep your company running in tip top condition.  Sometimes it’s hard to turn heads down and address the things that need to be done to ensure that your company is as efficient and scalable as it can be, but you need to challenge yourself to do so.

This week, I want to go over how well you define and document the roles and responsibilities that it takes in order for your company to thrive in an efficient manner.

A team with well-documented roles and responsibilities is a happy team. Frustration is often generated when no one is taking ownership of things that need to be done. I often liken it to a kid’s soccer game… Everyone wants to move the ball down the field and has the best intention to do so, but with a complete lack of strategy, it makes for a entertaining and humerus attempt. Or perhaps you have experienced a culture where everyone knows there is much to be done, but without clearly defined responsibilities those tasks seem to just float out there without anyone stepping up to address them. It is an awkward environment with an unspoken and shared knowledge that things are getting done. Both of these environments are poisonous to a company’s existence.

One ingredient of a great company culture is one where accountability is king. If something goes wrong or something falls through the cracks, everyone needs to know whose shoulders it fell on, and that person needs to actively claim responsibility for it. This can only happen when you have people in place with high striver quotients , and when you have clearly defined who is responsible for what. If you have both of these in place, you are already ahead of the game. This is especially important in a young company where many people wear lots of hats. Here are things I have found to be very helpful:

  • Create a team Org chartwith a position title and the name of the person doing that job. Don’t just create a position for each person on your team; create a hierarchy of all of the roles (I call them hats) in the organization, even though the number of positions far outnumbers the resources you have available to you. As you grow, you will be able to more clearly see what positions you need to bring on board in a prioritized and organized manner.This is a far better approach than creating an organizational chart with only as many positions as there are people. Doing this creates job descriptions that are so multi-functional, it is nearly impossible to create a title for each position. It’s okay to have multiple jobs in the same company, but you must be cognizant of when you are wearing which hat, and equally as important, how much time you are wearing each hat.

  • For each position in the Org Chart, create a job description. A proper job description should have two sections: a job summary and a list of essential job functions. Have your team create their own and review them to not only make sure they are aware of their responsibilities, but also to identify overlap in perceived responsibilities.
  • For each position in the Org Chart, create a ‘desk manual’. A desk manual is a list of all of the recurring responsibilities of that position. I like to break them down into Daily, Monthly, Weekly, Quarterly, and Annual sections. List each recurring deliverable with instructions on what needs to be done and how to do it. If someone gets sick one week and can’t perform their duties, assign someone to review their desk manual and see what needs to be done so they can step in and make sure that all tasks are completed on time.If you store all of these documents in a public folder on your cloud, everyone can have access to them for purposes of clarity. For larger organizations, you may just want to keep PDF versions in the public folder to protect their integrity.
  • Lastly, I strongly recommend using 37 Signal’s Basecamp platform to bring order the tasks you have at hand. This platform has revolutionized and simplified the basic need to lay out everything that needs to be done and it does it in a collaborative and easy to use way like I have never seen. You can give it a free trial and I promise you it will change your company and your life.
Whether you are a young start-up or a established company, the need to address these matters are important to the productivity and scalability of you business.
Have you found them helpful? Do you have any thoughts, questions, or even examples of how these topics have effected your company? We would love to hear about them!
Stay tuned next week for Part #5: Procedure & Process Documentation
What topics would you like to see us write about next?