I received an email from the owner of a business whose team was in a two day training session with us. He was receiving great feedback from his team but he wanted to review with us the “accountability” section in our training.
“ So many courses and workshops give you ideas but no one is helping hold us accountable to do the work” he said to me as we reviewed our process.
This comment resonated with me because I have seen this concern and problem over and over again. When I am brought into a company to help them improve results, my first inspection point always refers to the question of process and accountability.
Is there a process in place? Has the team been trained effectively? And lastly, whose job is it to follow up and hold the team accountable?
The answers I find always fall into only one of these two categories
- No process
- No accountability
We should not try to complicate why results do not happen. It comes down to these two and most of the time to accountability. Many leaders hope for great results. Many stop inspection of their team because “they should know better” or “we trained them. Now it is up to them.”
These thoughts and subsequent lack of inspection over time will always end up with a drop in production and disenchanted employees.
How to improve accountability.
Define Specific Results
In order to follow up properly, you need to have specific results that everyone understands. You have to be so clear on what you expect that there is no misunderstanding of expectations. Here are two examples.
- Bad: I need you to increase sales this month
- Good: I need you to increase sales by 10 units this month
If you are not clear, at the end of the month what you think is an increase can be different from your employee. In the case of the good example, we all know what 10 units are.
Agree to a deadline
Once again, lack of specificity can cause conflict. In many cases, myself included, leaders have given deadlines like “ I need it on Friday”. Well you may need it for a meeting at 10 am but the team thinks end of day is fine. By having a specific deadline it is easier to hold the team accountable for the results you desired.
Achieving the results and how you communicate with your team is often one of the most overlooked aspects of accountability for many leaders. If someone achieved results have you communicated to them what they did to achieve their success? By reviewing their actions with them, they can repeat the behavior in the future to get the same results. Ask them what they did differently in terms of their actions or specific behavior to help them identify the specific things to do each month that will set them up for success
Managers spend a lot of time working with teams when they do NOT achieve the desired results. Remember to take emotion out of the equation. Most employees are trying hard to achieve results so we as leaders need to dive in and ask them what they did. Understand what behavior they executed to get these results
Make sure to understand that not everything was wrong. By drilling into behavior you will find that one step or two was missed or done improperly and that affected results It allows you to target your training to improve performance, clear up any issues and then make it easier to hold the team accountable
Once you have identified behaviors for success you need to schedule a time to review results and progress over time. NEVER stop checking in on results or actions. The result will be the time needed to check up will get shorter and shorter because your team will expect you to inspect, but never ever stop.
If you can learn to hold your team accountable correctly you will attain the results you desire as well as retain the team you have in place.
If I can be of service or you would like to bounce ideas around feel free to reach out to me. I will be more than willing to help.
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