Although there's a greater recognition now of the importance of managers, this doesn't mean that where organisations have devolved greater accountability to the line it has always been successful.
Whoever thought that setting managers up to fail was ever a good idea?
Too often, operational accountabilities are devolved to line managers without them being properly equipped to handle the associated tasks.
For the overworked line manager on the receiving end of this change, the perception is often that they’re being properly dumped on; the reason that they’ve been asked to take greater accountability is because of a desire to save costs, or because the HR team wants to get rid of the job!
The message that people managers rarely get is, ‘we would like you to be accountable for this because you’re actually best placed to do it (an argument which has the advantage of being true), and we’ll also make sure that you are fully equipped to do the job effectively, meaning that there will be benefits to you, your team, day to day....etc’.
Greater accountability has to go hand-in-hand with greater empowerment, by which I mean giving managers all of the tools, the skills, the knowledge and the support that they need to be more self-sufficient, more effective and more successful.
But empowerment without accountability is a recipe for chaos. Accountability without empowerment is just setting people up to fail.
Far too often, organisations have attempted the latter and then wondered why they experience deep rooted problems that are then difficult to address, change and overcome.