No (Wo)man’s an Island: It’s About Building Bridges
Being part of any business, whether you are working for a company or for yourself, means that you are part of an organisational system. This means that there are people you depend on and people that rely on you. The term interdependence is often used to explain this relationship. Wikipedia defines interdependence as the “dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with, others”.
On a practical note this means that if you are the client service manager you depend on the human resources department to recruit, train and pay your employees; on the technology department to provide computers with software to support the business processes; and on the sales department to ensure that they sell so that your unit can have products to service. On the other hand, the sales department depends on your department to provide a good client experience in order to build relationships which in turn will help them to sell again to existing clients.
How you understand your role in this system and how you manage these business relationships is a critical component of your professional success.
In the first of a two-part series, I will now explain your role in an organisation in more depth. A practical tool, called RASCI, can be used to gain a better understanding of your role in an organisation.
R – Responsible: The person who has to complete the task to get to the end result. Many people can be held responsible to get to the end result. In our example this could be the various heads of departments, who each has a defined task or set of information to get to a final answer on a client’s enquiry.
A – Accountable: The person who will be ultimately be held responsible for the result. Accountability is well defined in the quote of former President Harry S. Truman: The buck stops here. In our example this would be you in the role of client service manager.
S – Supportive: The person supporting the responsible persons in doing the task. This could be the personal assistant responsible for organising meetings and making sure everything is in place to get the tasks done.
C – Consulted: The person who can offer specialist knowledge to help complete the task. In our example it could be a legal advisor that offers input on a legislative issue that will impact how the task is approached.
I – Informed: The person that needs to know about the result of the task but does not need to be consulted. For example, the training department could be informed on how long it took to complete a particular type of client enquiry as this could point to potential training needs.
Understanding your role will also help you to know what and when to communicate with other people in your business, and how to build supportive and constructive business relationships needed for business success.
The words of the English poet John Donne (1572-1631) – “No man is an island, entire of itself… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind” – ring true for business relationships as well.