When employees hear the word “accountability,” it can sometimes have a negative connotation. Many people associate accountability with fault or blame.
Accountability is crucial for any organization so it thrives, meets project deadlines and maintains equitable workloads. But when employees hear the word “accountability,” they think of fault or blame. So, how do you take the fear out of accountability? By creating a company culture steeped in accountability for all individuals.
One key piece of an accountability culture is effective and efficient management. “Management is getting work done through others,” says Michelle Coussens, Owner and Strategist, Plan B Consulting. Through a culture of productivity and accountability, an effective manager can help maintain a degree of stability, predictability and order.
To build an accountability culture, manage employees’ performance effectively. Here are five steps, outlined by Michelle Coussens, from the recent Resourceful Manager webinar, Culture of Accountability.
When you’re in a dynamic, fluid work environment like many of us are today, setting expectations may not be as traditional as it once was. Some ways you can help set expectations:
- Use the 80/20 rule, AKA the Pareto Principle: 80% of value comes from 20% of effort. Evaluate your best assets and give them priority to help get maximum value from them
- Avoid procrastination: Prioritize challenging or intensive tasks to keep productivity high. Hold off on boring or administrative tasks for when energy is lower, and
- Allow yourself and others to fail: If employees are afraid to fail, chances are they won’t try new things, which means a lack of innovation and new ideas.
Micro-goals focus on the steps along the way instead of the full picture. They can help keep your team accountable and ensure big projects don’t fall behind schedule by breaking up a big project into bite-sized chunks.
Pick achievable objectives, results and timelines for micro-goals. A good micro-goal will also have leading and lagging indicators as well as milestones and decision points. Pick specific metrics, and try to avoid metrics that are difficult to understand or explain.
Help develop and manage structure
Like setting expectations, a structure can help keep things on track for your employees
Batch similar tasks into a timeframe to create structure and manage micro-goals. But don’t “scope creep,” which is adding more tasks to the project and broadening the scope. Better bet: Add follow-on projects as needed to build on the initial project.
A good way to help manage structure in a task is by using the TASC approach from Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead:
- Task: Who owns the task?
- Accountable: Do they have the authority to be held accountable?
- Success: Are they set up for success with time, resources and clarity?
- Checklist: Is there a checklist to make sure that the task is accomplished?
Communication is a key part of managing structure – if you don’t ask questions and identify issues, accountability can wane. It’s also important to make sure that you’re adjusting based on the questions you’ve asked and the problems you have identified.
Fairly assess actual performance
You’ll get a good indication of performance when you monitor progress and results. To assess performance fairly, look at performance through an objective lens to determine if they are progressing towards goals. Instead of looking at just deadlines, look at other indicators of performance like quality, quantity and timeliness.
You may also want to consider balancing efficiency and effectiveness – doing things right vs. doing the right things. A good balance of the two will help keep your team accountable and ensure that things are not just being done, but are done well.
Communicate timely feedback
Feedback is great, but timely feedback keeps everyone accountable.
According to a PwC employee survey, nearly 60% of respondents would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Feedback boosts motivation and enhances performance, reinforces direction and heightens engagement.
Be sure to recognize and reward employees when they have completed a project or made significant progress on a project. Recognition is impactful for employees and helps motivate employees to continue making progress.