Gentle Pressure, Relentlessly Applied: Four Commensurate Measures
Agreement on Approach: Openly communicate with the team to ensure everyone agrees on the manner and means of your approach to gain commitment.
Metrics for Assurance: Use metrics to track the efforts and performance of the team in order to validate your feedback, effect change, and improve.
Training & Coaching: Harness your role as a leader to train your team with new skillsets and coach them through the refinement of existing ones, guaranteeing they know how to do the work well.
Culture of Accountability: Foster a culture of accountability by setting expectations and following up in order to cultivate an environment that demands and breeds results.
Results are nonnegotiable.
That’s the approach you should take with your employees, and it’s one that’s fostered by creating and maintaining a culture of accountability in your business.
What do we mean by a “culture of accountability,” anyways? We mean that the environment you develop encourages and demands the responsibility of your employees to perform their jobs well. In a culture of accountability, staff both understand their obligations and that there will be inquiry and analysis—whether via metrics, coaching, or the insight of a leader like yourself—to ensure those obligations are being met at the well-established and business-wide standard.
A culture of accountability communicates to your employees that you will follow up; that knowledge generates a subtle pressure to perform. In the absence of accountability, it’s easy to slack off or ignore entirely the task and approach at hand. In a governless society, duty is nonexistent—the same is true of your business. If there’s no consequence for poor performance, why try? Fostering accountability instigates responsibility.
A culture of accountability represents the difference between a causal or hope environment. In a “hope” environment, you cross your fingers and hope things go well; you don’t follow up, don’t measure the results, and don’t hold your employees accountable. Anything could happen! But in a “causal” environment, you’re in control of the situation. You set expectations, define their role, measure the results, respond to slip-ups or failings, and create accountability. In a causal environment, there are fewer surprises or snafus because expectations are set and followed through.
Creating a culture of accountability is a concept that’s often mistaken for micromanaging; after all, they’re adults—they have an assignment and should know to do it, right? Wrong. Assuming your employees are responsible and don’t need guidance simply because they’re adults makes, as they say, an ass out of everyone. Following up on your employees is not micromanaging, it’s just managing. It’s your job as a manager to keep an eye on your employees and make sure they’re in line and producing the results expected (and agreed upon) with their position. In fact, most employees crave accountability; it’s what assures them they have a standard to achieve and that they’re doing their job well.
A culture of accountability is the difference between an operation that’s performing excellently, and those that are just doing well, ok, or poorly. It’s the guarantor of your agreement on approach, your metrics, and your training. A culture of accountability is a gentle pressure that, when relentlessly applied, guarantees results.