ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

February 1998


Business And Sports, One-On-One

Measurement On The High Seas

Scientists Develop Formula For Multinational Teamwork

Part-Time Statistics For Full-Time Results

Volunteers Wanted: Must Be Team Player, Success Minded


Chasing Good Examples
by Peter Block

Individual Change Key To Org. Change
by Cathy Kramer


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review

Views For A Change

H. James Harrington Responds

What would you call a person who runs up and down the work area, yelling and hollering at the top of his or her lungs? I don't know what you would call that person, but I would call him or her a basketball coach.

Businesses exist in a very professional environment, not the little league where the coach is the father or mother of one of the players. The way you play the game, and giving everyone a chance to play, is all that is important for the little league coach. A professional coach, however, gets paid to win games, not to make the players happy. If a player can't perform, they are discarded. In fact, on most professional teams, they have managers that make sure things run smoothly. Yes, in the professional arena, a coach is a true dictator.

The coach:
o designs and calls the play
o defines the make up of the team
o defines the interface among the team members
o defines how the individual will play the game
o takes the individual out of the game when he or
she does not follow the coach's direction

I question if coach is the right word for a manager in a participative environment. Guide, facilitator, mentor, or even manager are all better words. A coach is the least participative management style that a manager could have in a professional environment. Let's turn to Webster's New World College Dictionary for some definitions.

coach - a person who instructs; instruct - to order or direct; therefore, a coach is a person who orders or directs
leader - a person or thing that leads, directs, commands, or guides; the guiding head
facilitator - a person who increases the ease of performing an activity, resulting from lessening of nervous resistance by the continued successive application of the necessary stimuli
manager - a person who manages; manage - to have charge of, direct, administrate, or to get a person to do what one wishes by skill, tact, flattery, etc.; therefore, a manager is a person that gets another person to do what the manager wishes by skill, tact, flattery, etc.

There are even some key management activities that need to be performed that are not within the job responsibilities of a coach or a facilitator. For example, the rewards and recognition system is not covered by a coach or a facilitator.

To implement a participative environment, the executive team needs to develop a vision statement that defines the way the organization will function in a participative environment. This vision statement should not be finalized until it has been reviewed by all levels of employees and their comments have been considered. New job descriptions need to be written for all levels of facilitators (management), starting with the chairperson of the board and continuing down through all employee levels. It is important to realize that there is not only a major change in the way the management team functions, but also in the way the employees are required to function. I find that with new job responsibilities that are assigned to the employees, it is usually necessary to reclassify the employees to a higher level and increase their pay accordingly. The new facilitator job description and the vision statement should be reviewed with the employees that report to each facilitator.

Then the employees' new job descriptions should be reviewed with the employees, with particular care given to pointing out the changes in the job descriptions and how they interrelate to the facilitator's job description.

To have a successful system, it must start with the executive team changing its management style. They must give up some of their controls to middle-level facilitators (management). Once this is done, middle-level facilitators, who are already busy, are very willing to give up some of their controls to the first-level facilitators (supervisors and foremen). Now, the first-level facilitators are positioned to involve the employees. It is much like a waterfall, flowing down and changing the way individuals interface with each other, beginning with the chairperson of the board. Starting the participative system with the foreman or supervisor is a sure formula for failure.

Once the new job descriptions are written, a new evaluation and reporting system needs to be put in place. It should include three-way appraisals for all facilitators. This often results in a two-year drop in performance levels for many employees, which is not their fault and should not impact their merit increases. A detailed list of behavioral patterns for each level of facilitators should be developed and shared with their employees. This list will be much like the coach/facilitator comparison I shared earlier with you. It is important to realize that many of your best managers will be inadequate performers in the participative environment and will have to be removed from the facilitator classification. Top management must address this problem before the participative initiative starts and have a plan on how they are going to handle this situation. Frequently, the implementation of a participative environment results in major restructuring of the executive team, removing people that are not naturally participative and will not be able to change their personalities fast enough to keep pace with the roll out plan. The restructuring should be completed before the employees become involved in the participative environment.
I cannot overemphasize the need to develop and implement a very effective organizational change management process before you start the participative practices, since this is truly a cultural shock to most organizations. A participative environment cannot just be accepted. It must be embraced at all levels of the organization to be successful.

John Runyan Responds

February '98 News for a Change | Email Editor

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