Org Chart

A manager is accountable for the results of others… In my previous post I asked the question: If your manager is accountable for your results, then for what are you accountable? My overly simplistic answer is “for doing your best”. If this is true, and I firmly believe it is, then the role of manager is framed in its proper context. Managers have direct reports and are accountable for achieving results through a coordinated group of assigned activities from those direct reports.

In order for a manager to be accountable for the results of others he/she must have at least these four authorities. 1. Veto Power in selecting their direct reports. While candidates can be screened and offered to the manager from a variety of  people or processes, the manager must be free to veto any candidate with a reasonable explanation. (I should note that if a manager exhibits biases or other unreasonable tendencies, then this manager’s manager is accountable for dealing with the behavior of this manager.) 2. Only the manager has authority to Assign Tasks to his/her direct report. This is an often broken rule which has undermined accountability in many organizations. Not even the manager’s manager can assign a task to the direct report(s). 3. Only the manager Reviews, Recognizes, and Rewards the work of their direct reports. Again the reason for this rule comes back to the fact that the manager is accountable for the results of his/her direct reports. In special circumstances, such as when a direct report is temporarily assigned to a project team with a project leader, then that project leader should have all four authorities but only as it relates to that specific project. 4. The manager has the authority to Initiate Removal from the manager’s direct reporting staff. While there may be others involved and the potential existence of fairness processes from Human Resources, the manager can use these processes and procedures to deselect members of his/her staff. With at least these four authorities a manager can be accountable for the results of his/her direct reports.

These four authorities are key to a high performance organization. Dr Elliott Jaques, in his book Requisite Organization, provides more details and explanations. I remember these authorities through the simple acronym VARI, which was taught to me by PeopleFit Australasia.

V- Veto Power

A- Assign Tasks

R- Review, Recognize, Reward

I- Initiate Removal

Without VARI a manager cannot be truly accountable for the work of others. However when a manager chooses his/her team members, assigns them clear tasks through the role description and other assignments linked to achieving the mission and strategies, plus he/she is looked to by his/her team members to review, recognize and reward, and then each team member exerts his/her best effort; then the manager is truly accountable for the results. VARI is a powerful principle to follow in the path to a high performance organization.

I know some of my colleagues are aching to improve on my explanation of VARI. Others may have questions or concerns. Please feel free to comment


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