By Jim Whitt, Contributing Editor
I f you are old enough, you may remember a game called 20 Questions. Here’s how it works. One person plays the role of the answerer who thinks of an object. The other players are the questioners and get to ask 20 questions to guess what that object is. The questioner who guesses what the object is wins. If no one can guess what the object is after 20 questions, the answerer wins.
The game has been around since the 19th century, but I decided to create a variation of it that has a practical application for the 21st century workplace. We’ll call it 20 Questions for 2020. Here we go:
- What is your position, and what key accountabilities are you responsible for?
- What goals have you committed to achieving in this position over the next year?
- What are the key accountabilities for your direct reports?
- What goals have your direct reports made for the upcoming year?
- How are you held accountable?
- How do you hold your direct reports accountable?
- What type of retention program do you have in place to retain your direct reports?
- What type of performance management program do you have in place for your direct reports?
- What are the top skills needed for the position?
- Which of your skills would be identified as a detriment?
- Who truly understands your position?
- Who should truly understand your position?
- If you had a clearer understanding of your job, could you be more productive?
- If your superiors had a clearer understanding of your job, could you be more productive?
- If your direct reports had a clearer understanding of their positions, would they be more productive?
- How would clearly defining the position affect your bottom line?
- How would this understanding affect team synergy?
- How would this understanding affect morale?
- How would this understanding impact your hiring process?
- How would this understanding impact your onboarding process?
The author of these thought-provoking questions is Ann Marie Boslin, a business development consultant with TTI Success Insights, a company we partner with to provide assessment solutions for our clients. The questions are designed to help maximize the return on investment (ROI) for the most important asset in any organization — people.
We’ve discovered the one area that can earn the quickest ROI is clearly defining roles. To answer questions 1 and 3 we’ve developed an “expectations” worksheet for our clients. It requires the employee in the position and the supervisor to complete a list of responsibilities (Key Accountabilities) for the job. We also ask what the person who holds the position has the authority to do. Then the employee and the supervisor share their worksheets with each other and combine the two lists into one they both agree on. This becomes a functional job description. It answers questions 11 and 12.
With input from others in the organization who are familiar with the position, a benchmark can be created that identifies the behavioral profile and skills best suited for the job. Coupled with assessments, it helps hire the right person to fit the role (question 19), and when hired to help capitalize on their strengths and develop the skills needed for them to succeed in their job (question 20).
We’ve used this process to completely restructure organizations. It not only clarifies existing roles but identifies roles that need to be created and those that need to be eliminated. When the right people are in the right roles, it’s like putting round pegs in round holes and square pegs in square holes. Everything fits. Imagine the impact this process has on questions 13,14, 15, 17 and 18. Productivity, synergy and morale improve dramatically. When everyone knows exactly what the expectations are you can answer questions 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
So, who wins when you play 20 Questions for 2020? Leadership? Employees? Shareholders? Everybody wins. And it shows up on the bottom line — which answers question 16.