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Clarify and explain organizational structure / process

In my series on Self Determination Theory I have been examining the fifteen behaviors (identified by Researchers Deci and Ryan)

that leaders can demonstrate that allow employees to satisfy their own need for competence, connection and choice. This post I look at another of those fifteen behaviours: Clarify and explain organizational structure / process. Here are a few of the things I have found that you can do as a leader within your organization:


  • I once asked my new team " what do we do?" I got 15 different answers from 18 people. But by asking that question I was able to get an idea of how detailed/ basic my clarification needed to be.

  • Use a combination of words and pictures: Yes the org. chart is a business trope but it helps people visualize the functional connections and hierarchy.

  • Describe the purpose of each team / function. Detail interdependencies between teams / functions, groups (and make sure to keep this up to date as the organization evolves you need to go back make sure everyone knows the structure and processes). And is describing that purpose link it to your strategy and customers. Get to the WHY behind the structure

  • Getting to the individual level, roles need to be articulated not only in ways that describe what each does, but also how it complements surrounding roles


I once saw North America's most expensive process map on a wall in Ohio. It was the manufacturing process for a printing company. And it highlighted that each of the 20+ plants did the same thing differently. Helping your team understand the process is crucial to smooth operations and provides them with the chance to self motivate through better working relationships and move involvement.

  • The What: Define the process. Again, using words and pictures. Detail each step, who is responsible, key handoffs, escalation policies etc.

  • The Why: This is often missed but why we perform a step in the process a certain way helps clarify the step (context is so helpful to understanding) AND allows the leader and the employee a chance to re-evaluate the step (the world keeps changing are we reviewing our processes at the same rate?)

  • The Ask: AKA "the concept check". Have the employee repeat back to you their understanding, ask them what stands out as redundant, which part(s) they like (and why they like) and what they would change / improve. All 3 questions help you build relationship (you are asking and listening) while scanning the process from a new / fresher perspective (allowing the employee to satisfy their need for competence).

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