As an advisor to business leaders and owners, I often hear discussions about employee responsibility, almost always focusing on the negative.
Phrases like “empowering people” imply negative consequences or punishment, rather than rewards or the freedom and coaching of team members to choose their own actions and pursue what matters most to them. .
I challenge you to look at accountability from a more positive perspective, as I see in a new book, “Uncommon responsibility, “by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. Based on their years of experience as successful executives and productivity consultants, they and I agree that focusing on these key positives is more likely to get you. the responsibility you want:
1. Set clear and high performance standards.
When I speak with members of your team, I’m often surprised at how little they know about your highest values and performance expectations. They need to hear your true organizational standards that define success, as well as the non-negotiable behaviors required to be a productive part of the team.
Jeff Bezos believes that setting high standards has been the key to Amazon’s success. For example, instead of quick slide presentations, Amazon teams write six-page memos to pitch ideas in stories to read silently at the start of a meeting.
2. Provide regular feedback on performance and results.
Annual performance reviews are not enough to ensure accountability. We all need weekly, if not daily, informal and management feedback, and what works and what doesn’t. Positive feedback should be provided publicly, but constructive feedback is best provided in individual sessions.
We have all heard the excuse of “not enough time”. But when there is a will, there is a way. Richard Branson, who runs a number of businesses, even provides commentary by walking around the cabin and speaking directly to his key staff on his Virgin flights.
3. Highlight all the positive consequences for the performers.
Most team members already know the negative consequences, but rarely consider positive consequences. It’s up to you to keep all the potential consequences in perspective, and not to apply them as a lever to improve performance. Make sure they are considered metric-based and owned by the performer.
Something that most executives don’t talk about publicly, but should, is how people are selected for “fast lane” or fast promotion. I know from experience that this process most often focuses on employees who are still responsible, successful or unsuccessful.
4. Foster a culture of project ownership by team members.
In my experience, team members who take ownership always seem to identify ways to improve their processes and the business in general. They should feel free to make the decisions necessary to perform well without first obtaining permission. Real responsibility only comes with decision-making autonomy.
Another key approach to fostering ownership is to find ways to make team members work towards common goals and to put their ‘skin in the game’ more. Of course, to cultivate it, you need to openly reward successes and avoid negative penalties.
5. Build a relationship of trust with each member of the team.
Accepting responsibility requires trust, and trust doesn’t come without a relationship. It’s up to you to build that relationship by listening to their needs and concerns and offering them help where you can. Avoid the temptation to provide the “right answers” to team members without seeking their views.
In today’s environment, with more and more remote and virtual teams, the work is more difficult but it is possible. It is your challenge to learn how to use social media and video facilities effectively. Make sure that all of your contacts and chats are not one-sided.
6. Provide coaching and training in property discipline.
As a leader, coaching is the most effective way to help people manage ownership over their choices and results. Key ownership disciplines that you can help deliver include vision, planning, process control, score management, and time use. The key is to be available and to stay positive.
With these key strategies, you will find that you are no longer tempted to deal with responsibility as a negative consequence, but instead migrate to the more positive and effective strategy of “keeping team members capable”.
At the same time, the people you depend on will shift from an ‘I owe’ to ‘I have chosen to do’ mindset. It is much more satisfying and successful for everyone involved.