The forces of complexity, globalization, and technology are accelerating change and increasing volatility. The organizations that sustain success will be those that have an establish management accountability.
Think of an area in your organization – a particular team, business unit, or division – that mass produces mediocrity. Now think of another area that consistently delivers results and mass produces excellence. What’s the cause of the difference in performance between the two? In working with organizations all over the world, we’ve discovered a consistent reason for the difference. In almost every case, the difference lies in the level of accountability that exists, and it is always created by the local leadership.
The great news is this – we’ve created a model that can rapidly improve the level of accountability of any team, business unit, division, or organization. By implementing the following 6 requirements of the model, you will create a near fanatic discipline to the way work is done that will generate increased profitability and sustainable results.
1. Roles and Responsibilities are Clearly Defined and Communicated
One of the most important tasks any manager has is to clearly define the roles and responsibilities (R&Rs) of a job. Mediocrity will be the norm where R&Rs are ill defined or non-existent.
Action Required: Conduct a scan of the jobs to identify where R&Rs need to be defined, and make it a priority to establish standards that will enable the mass production of excellence.
2. Hire People Who are Pre-Wired to Be Accountable
The old model of talent selection overwhelmingly focuses on technical ability. Effective talent selection strategies of today require a balanced focus to include hiring for organization “fit” as well. As such, don’t hire people who require training on how to be accountable. Make it a priority to hire people who are naturally accountable. Period.
Action Required: Define the critical behaviors that demonstrate accountability within the context of your organization and culture, and modify your selection criteria to screen for the behaviors.
3. Only Measure Metrics that Matter
The transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy made data readily available. As a result of the explosion of social media usage, we’re now transitioning from a knowledge economy to a social economy. Increasing complexity is the norm, yet in order to establish and maintain accountability, managers must focus on the few metrics that truly matter.
Action Required: For every role, identify the metrics that measure performance impact on four key stakeholders: The customer, the shareholder, the employee, and the organization itself.
4. Answer the “Why” and Empower the “What” and “How”
Ask employees to explain what makes your organization different from its competitors and recent research reveals about 50% will not know the answers. As a result, the rationale for many of the decisions leaders make is not clear to their workforce. Great leaders always proactively answer the “Why” and consistently empower the “What” and “How”. They explain why a certain decision has been made and then acquire employee feedback by asking what needs to be done, and how it should be done. This approach automatically creates shared accountability between management and the rank and file.
Action Required: As I wrote about in the The #1 Management Behavior that is Destroying Profitability, managers and leaders should ask “what” and “how” questions because those two questions dramatically improve communication, innovation, and productivity.
5. Deliver Regular Performance Feedback at Irregular Intervals
That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Great managers manage by asking questions. They don’t wait for an annual performance review. They provide regular performance feedback and it is not provided on a regular schedule. Managers who create environments of accountability use every interaction to praise performance, deliver course corrections, and seek ideas to uncover innovative solutions.
Action Required: Train all managers in the techniques of time management and performance coaching so that they can have powerfully effective performance coaching conversations with each direct report that last less than 5 minutes.
6. Deliver Constructive Feedback Tailored to Each Employee’s Preference
In an environment of high accountability, people openly take personal responsibility. They want to know when they’re missing the mark. Great managers know each employee is different, so they are keenly adept at delivering constructive feedback in the manner that accommodates each individual employee’s preferences.
Action Required: Each manager should be trained to adapt their communication style to accommodate their employee’s behavioral and communication preferences. We have found the DiSC assessment to be the most effective and easiest to apply tool for use by managers.
Wherever a lack of accountability exists in your organization, you can expect three very costly outcomes: employee engagement will be low, cost per unit will be significantly higher than desired, and the voluntary turnover rate will be high especially among your best employees. Sustainability in a complex marketplace demands accountability, and by ensuring the 6 requirements described in this article are followed by the leaders in your organization, they will create an environment that attracts and retains top talent. And that is truly where the competitive advantage lies in a globally connected knowledge economy.
The Floor is Yours
What other techniques for developing and increasing accountability have you used? Please share your feedback in the comments below.
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