Sunday, September 09, 2012

Map the organisational interdependencies when you join a new company

When you join an organisation, it is important to know the expectations from your job, the constraints and opportunities in the new job, the interconnects with other departments that can help or hinder your performance in the job and the organisational protocols. This should be done in the first month of the job. But while doing this mapping, one needs to approach from the top.

Map the boss to whom you are reporting 

When you join an organisation as Sales manager, R&D manager, or Project Manager, it is important to clearly define your role. But before understanding your role, it is important to understand the role of your boss, of which you are a unit.

For instance, if you are a sales manager of Mumbai Region, you must identify the role and responsibilities of your boss who may be designated as GM ( Sales), or VP(Sales). Understand the importance of Sales ( or R&D) in your company. Are the top people supposed to have worked in Sales function before they reach the top? In the organisational scheme of things, what is the role of sales function visavis marketing? And delivery? Between all other functions, what is the role and power of sales? Understand the budgets that your function has? 

In order to understand this well, it will often require a helicopter view of the company vis a vis competitors. What is your company's explicit vision? If your company has operations in the world, what is the importance of India operations to its global balance sheet?  If you are joining a company at a higher hierarchy, this analysis provides you with high leverage actions. But even at lower levels, it is very useful. A MBA degree helps in doing this analysis. But a help from a MBA colleague or friend is also enough if one knows how to get this help. But doing this analysis often provides one many ideas that can spell a big difference to your success in a new organisation.

Only after the role of function ( sales, R&D, or delivery) has been understood, identify the person who is your boss. What kind of credibility does he enjoy in the company? How long has he been with the company? What are his strengths and weaknesses as others see them? What is the formal power and informal power of your boss? Is the power derived out of position, authority or expertise? How is his relation with his boss? What is your boss being measured against? What are his KPI's ? 

Map your role in the function along with your constraints and opportunities

Understand what is expected of your role in clear terms. There is a big difference between explicit and implicit role. A job in R&D may include also the work of productionising a new product idea in one company which may not be present in another company. A project manager in a specific company may include customer management , but in another, it may be different.

Once the role is clearly understood, understand the KPI's ( Key Performance Indicators) of your job. They are the metrics against you will be measured. They determine the yardstick by which you will be termed as 'successful' in your job. Here again there are explicit and implicit KPI's. Both need to be understood.

And more importantly, you need to understand the official and unofficial support that the organisation is offering you to perform your role and deliver your KPI's. The official support may be in the form of budgets, policies, formal processes ( how to include new customer requirements in a current project, for instance) and flow of information (how is the project doing) to take your decisions. These last two are difficult to dig out but surprisingly influence your job considerably. 

The unofficial support is equally important. It includes the ability to override policies in emergency situations, help in the form of quick decisions from the boss, and informal protocols that govern the day to day work ( such as when to fill up the customer reports). 

Map the horizontal departments and the people in those roles who influence your job performance (this is mapping the interdependence of your role)

In my coaching, I have often observed that professionals ignore to do this mapping. But producing any significant output in a company often requires to coordinate our work with others as a team. An organisation often provides explicit support in this coordination of work, but not everything can be made explicit. Therefore the extent of coordination is determined by the informal culture of the organisation. This is often invisible to an outsider. One has to take conscious effort in wearing a special kind of filter lens to see this.

First identify the colleagues within the department, their roles and the person behind the role. For instance, in project management, you may have to interact with other project managers to fulfill your job. Or R&D manager has to work with other legal counterparts to fulfill their role. Or sales manager has to function with other sales managers. Each colleague is performing a function. They depend on you to fulfill their function and you have to depend on them to fulfill your function. If the interdependence is mutual, it helps. When it is lopsided, then either you have more power to help/hurt others or vice versa.

Once the interdependence of colleagues is mapped, then map the interdependence with other departments. If you are in sales, you have to map the interdependence with marketing colleagues to get the right marketing support to promote your 'x' product in your territory. If you are a project manager, you have to map the interdependence with HR colleagues to get the right person when someone resigns. If you are a R&D manager, you have to depend on marketing colleagues to properly launch a product to succeed in the market. Their performance significantly affects your 'overall performance', but you do not control them. You can only influence them. And this requires considerable 'interdependence intelligence' to make it work.


This mapping of your role and organisational interdependencies spells the difference between succeeding or failing in a new organisation . Without this mapping, you are just roaming in the terrain. Your chances of reaching the destination depends on luck.

By mapping these interdependencies, however, you get a map of your terrain. The map helps you know where you stand what can you do next to reach the destination. The map helps you avoid costly mistakes, especially in the initial phase. And because mistakes are common in a work, it gives you a way of mitigating those failures so that they do not hurt you. More importantly, they clearly spell out the high leverage actions from the routine mundane actions so that you can focus on the more important and not get deluged by the daily routine. 

More importantly, this helps a professional in taking charge of his first priority: the priority of delivering immediate performance in his job. We have discussed elsewhere how he can deliver immediate performance. Please check it out. We shall later discuss the steps one has to take to ensure that one also simultaneously prepare to deliver long term performance. 


Career Counselling said...

Great blog always offer the best and authentic information without creating exaggeration.
This blog has given me opportunity to learn many things regarding products and services.

Anonymous said...

Excellent , really glad to have found this material right before making a job move.