In the environment of continuous change and turbulence, Tripod of Work model tells us about the way to chase the target with appropriate deployment of task, proper usage of judgement and communication to work as a team and sharing a common goal to achieve, i.e. team work. 

It also tells us about the importance of continuous data based evaluation of the progress and initiate necessary readjustments. All these aims to create a coherent sense of purpose and direction to achievement the goal. 

Regular methodical and structured review gives the team to learn from other members and also to understand the importance of team playing to create and sustain value for their organisation.

I came to know about tripod of work after spending about two decades in the industry, most possibly in 2009, during a group meeting of our vertical HR Head stood up at the end at told that he was going to explain us a beautiful theory which could be considered as the soul of people management. 

He had drawn a triangle on the white board and started describing us the tripod of work model. At that time, he didn’t tell us about the creator of it and described it in short without expanding much.

Tripod of work got etched in my mind since then. Though, neither did I try to know about it further, nor tried to know about the creator of it, but the essence of tripod of work was always present in my memory.

Therefore, after many years, at the fag-end of my career, while preparing my research thesis, I wanted to put tripod of work in my work paper and only then I felt the urge for gathering more information about this.

Deriving the idea of Tripod of Work diagram

Those who know about this model can refresh their memory once again and those who aren’t aware about tripod of work would appreciate and corelate the fundamentals with their work life, once they finish the reading of my article. I am sure about it.

Mrs. Gillian Stamp, Director of Bioss the Foundation, U.K. had developed the Tripod of Work: a well-accepted model of the organizational conditions within which employees can work in a competent manner with confidence without any ambiguity. 

DESCRIBING TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL OF MANAGEMENT 

“When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”—Jack Welch

We all understand that the management of business is a complex, difficult and multidimensional effort. As a manager we are expected to carry out many activities like,

  • To deliver good performance for self and subordinates.
  • To be accountable for subordinate’s under performance.
  • To delegate, guide, support, monitor and trust subordinates.
  • To show empathy while distribution task for execution.
  • To provide constructive feedback to subordinates, positive or negative.
  • To manage growth and development for self & subordinates.
  • To motivate, encourage and coach subordinates.
  • To manage team dynamics and conflicts. 
  • To create and maintain a conducive working environment.

I am not sure if any manager can develop equal proficiency in all of these activities and that’s why, in general, gaps remain in their actual performance. 

I have seen, often managers are getting promoted on the basis of their technical expertise, undermining their understanding of business management. Therefore, many of them (of course not all) doesn’t have any idea about how to manage their activity in a manner that satisfies all the aspects of ‘good management.’

We probably have experienced that, there is no universal /single management model that can fit in every business situation. Depending upon the situation it always needs various changes and readjustments, thus calls for necessary maturity and flexibility from the managers in order to approach every situation understanding its uniqueness.

Skeleton of Tripod of Work model

In this scenario, proper understanding of Tripod of Work model can help the managers to perform in a better way. Basically, there are three models of Tripod of Work Management and I have experienced them in my career.

There are three level to arrive to the optimal status. I will narrate them one by one in a very short form. Interested readers can visit the Bioss site to understand in details.

There are three ‘key’ words:

  • Tusking,
  • Trusting and
  • Tending.

There are three ‘linking’ words, that links the key words:

  • Judgement,
  • Review and
  • Coherence.

RIGID STAGE OF TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL

I have worked with the start ups and directly promoter managed companies, they usually work following the Rigid Tripod of Work  model.

Rigid Tripod of Work model of management

In companies where the promoter or the top man himself runs all functions of the business, tasking means enforcing the order without any trust to any employee and employees are under policing all the time. In this situation  people don’t get much room to apply their judgement as  work only as a tool under complete control of the top man. 

In this situation, no attachment is possible to get developed with the organisation. So coherence get replaced by alienation. Moreover, methodical review system exist in complete paralysis in this model. Review is done entirely based on the personal impression and emotional attachment of the top man only.

DIFFUSE STAGE OF TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL

As the business grows, the top man sometimes fills the necessity to adopt better management style and start delegating and depending on the subordinates for the outcome. At this stage a situation typically arise that can be termed as the Diffuse Tripod of Work model.

Diffuse Tripod of Work model of management

In an endeavour to give freedom, management withdraws the enforcement and allot task.  But usually with insufficient clarity and guidance, trusting that people will decide everything on their own. 

As a result, people get confused about their deliverables and fail to understand the common goal or purpose of the organisation. 

No review happens in course of giving so called work freedom, but in this situation consequently people starts feeling valueless and neglected.

There is a strong chance that looking to the situation, the top man will go back to the rigid stage again out of fear and dissatisfaction and the Organisation will remain at that stage for decades together.

OPTIMAL STAGE OF TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL

Smart management quickly understand and overcome the diffuse phase and arrive to the optimal or near optimal state of tripod of work management model.

At lease in one case in my career, the leader (promoter) chose to rectify the diffused situation with necessary infuse of experienced professionals in the system. and modifying the organization structure and work practices. Eventually this company became globally renowned entity.

When all six words (3 key & 3 linking) are put in their appropriate points and in practice, the model becomes a well-balanced Optimal Tripod of Work. 

Optimal Tripod of Work model of management

In this optimum model, three corners of the triangle are three ‘key’ activities that managers need to perform effectively.

Tasking: Manager needs to explain his team clearly about what needs to be done, by whom, by when and to what standard.

Trusting: Manager to entrust his team with the ultimate purpose of the task. Trust their skill and decision making capability.

Tending: Manager needs to monitor regularly the progress based on the reports, data and facts, evaluate resources and priorities and most importantly pick up early signs of opportunities and threats.

Judgement : It is the linking between Tusking and Trusting. Every person in the team should be capable to apply his/her own judgement about the performance and quality being produced. 

At the same time management apply their judgement and (if needed) update its decision based on the resource availability and market need. It becomes a balance of tension between the task and trust. Conflicts are bound to happen as a result of this tension and to be efficiently resolved.

Review: It is the linking between Tusking and Tending. Management needs to ensure the resources are being used effectively, progress is being done par plan, necessity of making any modification in the team or in the plan etc. 

Review must be done in a structured manner based on the collected data and the records are essentially to be maintained for future needs. 

The tension between Tasking and Tending needs to be managed bases on the collected field data and considering prevailing business environment, keeping emotions at bay.

Coherence: It is the linking between Trusting and Tending. Team entrusted a task needs to be aware of the goal and objective of the management. They need to understand that how their role is contributing to achieve the goal and objective. There should be an belongingness to the purpose. 

On the other hand team should regularly be informed about any changes in plan or in any relevant business parameter, so that they can be able to exercise their judgement in appropriate context.

PD MODEL OF TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL

This is my adoption of Tripod of Work Management model for People Development.

While working on Organisation Development (OD), I realize that the tripod of work model can equally be useful and be adopted in the activity of People Development (PD) process as well. 

PD Tripod of Work model of management

People development starts with talent search and preparing the Talent for the accomplishment of organisation’s goal/target. The process of preparation is Training and the measurement of training efficacy is post training test/evaluation.

Employee and the manager both apply their judgement to understand the required knowledge/skill level to perform a particular task, thus arrive at a decision of training need. 

The mutual tension between Training and Test is the continuous exchange of inputs about the desired outcome, training resource and training quality etc.

Balance between Talent and Test is post test review to understand the real life efficacy of imparted training. This review/evaluation is structured and based on collected data and not on the emotional premises of liking or disliking of individuals.

Depending upon the need of the organization this cycle of Talent-Training-Test can roll on repeatedly.

OUTCOME OF TRIPOD OF WORK MODEL IN AN OPTIMAL SITUATION

Successful balance of the activities will come out as:

  • Quantity with quality in time.
  • Team building,
  • Empowered, confident, efficient and willing team members,
  • Conducive work environment,
  • Improved attachment with the organisation goal,
  • Improved team performance,
  • Improved work culture and employee satisfaction,
  • Improved data management for effective review,
  • Improved creation of information/experience data bank.
  • Hence, improved ability to perform in an dynamic environment.

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At the end I thank you for your patient reading and that way encouraging me to write on further topics. Happy New Year in advance.