Recently we had the opportunity to work with an executive team of a consumer packaged goods company. They were at odds with each other because things were not getting done. The executive team had invested a good deal of energy, and a lot of thought and effort into a new product development launch. They constructed what all felt was a strong plan; it was well laid out, had been communicated to the broader organization with the expectation that they were set to go. They used a RACI chart to identify roles and responsibilities.
If you’re not familiar with RACI charts, here’s how they are intended to work: A RACI chart is a matrix that outlines the roles for each person or group relating to a specific step in a project. RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. A RACI chart is often used by Managers to ensure responsibilities are understood across stakeholder groups.
The project leader was dumbfounded; the roles and responsibilities were well laid out; however, he could not understand why they were missing the launch dates. Here was the problem. RACI charts, independent of people establishing and nurturing relationships with their colleagues, just do not work. We’ve seen it time and time again, without strong relationships, RACI charts become more of a hindrance than as a way to share roles and responsibilities and get work accomplished.
The take-home-message: Spending time on relationship building and dialogue is a prerequisite before accountabilities can be developed. By doing this, not only are you able to become clear on what to expect from each other, you also know where to go for support.
When we posed the question to the leaders, “how much time do you spend with each other outside of meetings—getting to know one another on a personal level?” they were silent.
Once the group was able to invest time in their relationship with one another, the RACI charts became more meaningful and useful.
Research shows that one of the most important competencies for leaders to master for career success or two of four career derailments is building strategic working relationships.