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Photo Credit: Arno Senoner on Unsplash

As a Scaling Up Certified Coach, I find that one of the greatest barriers to an organization’s success can be a lack of clarity over who needs to do what. It sounds simple, but to drive a business forward, it is imperative to get the right people doing the right things—or no one goes anywhere. In his book Good to Great, business expert Jim Collins likens this to seating passengers on a bus, emphasizing the need to “get the right butts in the right seats” if you want to get to your destination.

It never ceases to amaze me how many CEOs have a mental block around this issue, and I frequently coach executives to push past it. Failing to pin down who is responsible for what (i.e., what people are being paid to achieve) can be quietly destructive to a business, whereas being precise has a powerful way of getting you precisely what you want. Alas, there are people in most organizations who work for their own amusement. Fortunately, Scaling Up has a great tool to amp up the alignment and accountability.

The Function Accountability Chart (FACe)

There is no better tool than Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up Function Accountability Chart (FACe) to nail down who within your organization should be fulfilling which functions and achieving what results. Using this straightforward one-page chart helps you and your team externalize their vision for exactly how each of you is going to contribute to the execution of your strategies—while giving CEOs a clearer picture of whether the right people are on their bus.

Below is an example of the FACe tool in action. You can use this with your team in a dedicated one-hour to 1.5-hour session, filling the columns out from left to right as the image shows. By going from left to right, you first identify the “who” and then the “what” that person is accountable for. Some teams find thinking in that sequence difficult, and I find it can be helpful to work in reverse, beginning with the results and outcomes column on the right and moving left across the chart. The reason this often works is that it focuses your attention on what the business needs and wants from your leaders, not what you are currently getting from your incumbents.

Each position on your chart should have between two and five key results or outcomes associated with it that are tied directly to your financial statements, or significant “take it to the bank” results like quality, customer satisfaction, and on-time delivery. In turn, each of those should correspond with leading indicators (KPIs) for each function. As you fill the chart out in detail, it will become fairly obvious who your A, B, and C Players are on your leadership team based on the results they get for your business. 

Don’t Know the Precise Outcomes You Need? Estimate the Number You Want.

A critical best practice is to avoid all results or outcomes that are vague. Vague goals are not goals your team can organize their efforts around. The sales leader in the example above has a definitive goal for her team to reach: $3 million net new sales per year and a sales labor efficiency ratio (sLER) of greater than $7.2. That is very specific, and in practical terms, she will know exactly how well she is progressing toward it and how well those achievements are lining up with the organization’s quarterly and annual goals. The example below, however, is a more typical weak attempt at the results/outcomes column in this exercise—generic notions like “X% of revenue.” If your organization is filling out the FACe with poor specificity, you can be assured that inattention to results is costing you millions! Please don’t tolerate this substandard level of strategic planning.

Fuzzy goals like these always generate fuzzy results, and even if you are having difficulty generating a precise figure for that fourth FACe column, you are much better off guessing than being vague. The human mind is better than you might think at estimating. Just think of how close to a yard you can get by pacing three strides, or how simple it is for a cook to approximate an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper with a pinch.

Even if your estimate is questionable, the fact that it is a concrete guess will spur discussion among your leaders and prompt them to be analytical and decisive. They will tell you if they think your number is way off, and the debate is healthy, even if the result of the conversation ends up being a confirmation of your initial assumption. Break out a calculator if you need to and tap out some rough numbers to help you refine your estimates as a team. Don’t let them leave the room without a number being written down.

If you push your team to develop razor-sharp lead and lag measures with specific numbers attached to them, they will all be more effective at achieving their goals and building a better business with you. (Hint: People who resist numbers are telltale B and C Players!)

What Does Your FACe Tell You?

If approached correctly, the FACe can provide clarity on who owns what and where the buck stops—something even CEOs of sophisticated businesses can struggle with. When I do this exercise with an executive, it might be the first time he or she has ever looked at the critical results/outcomes they want and the activities needed to get there. It is an effective way to uncover gaps within your organization, pinpointing critical positions that need to be hired for, underperformers, and mismatches in skill sets (i.e., positions where the organization has tried to fit square pegs into round holes). Some CEOs may also find their own name appears in multiple boxes, which means they may need to delegate more.

Once your FACe is completed, you should be confident in the answers to these questions:

  1.     Do you have one person in more than one seat?
  2.     Do you have more than one person in a single seat?
  3.     Are there empty seats?
  4.     Would you enthusiastically rehire the person in each seat?

It is your #1 job as a leader to solve for these problems and especially to work toward getting a consistent “yes” to question 4. If you don’t, guess what? Your bus isn’t going anywhere. Once you have completed the FACe, you can leverage another Scaling Up tool, the Process Accountability Chart (PACe) to provide insight into how effective your processes are in helping your team reach the goals you’ve put in place. That’s the roadmap you’ll use to drive your bus to its destination.

Although the FACe is a one-page chart, it is one of the most practical and powerful tools in the Scaling Up arsenal. It forces the CEO to think strategically about the key functions and positions in the company and generates quantitative information for one-on-one employee reviews and A Player Agreements™. The key metrics and KPIs from the FACe should also be reviewed on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis in Scaling Up Scoreboard or an equivalent tool.

Use FACe to Build Your Dream Team

Your goal as a CEO should be to have an organization full of A Players who generate value for your business, and truthfully, the information this exercise yields is exactly what A Players both want and deserve. Your highest performers want to have a prescription for success, and it is your job to give it to them. Not requiring concrete results from your employees encourages a culture of mediocrity and uncertainty, two things no one wants.

If you are ready to be coached through using FACe and other Scaling Up tools, schedule a conversation with me today. You can work through these game-changing methods with me in a one-to-one environment so you can discover the right results and accountabilities to unleash your business to the next level of success.

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