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Holding Yourself and Your Team Accountable

Holding Yourself and Your Team Accountable

It is often easier to start off a new year with establishing this beautiful and comprehensive list of goals/objectives and tasks for yourself and others but the ability to execute and hold yourself and others accountable is an entirely different story. It also takes an entirely different skillset; one that requires a lot of consistency and habit creation.

So how do you actually hold yourself and your team accountable for meeting or even exceeding expectations within your business? It’s certainly not rocket science and is really just a combination of a few steps you can take to set yourself, your employees, and your business up for success in 2022 (or beyond!)

Establishment of Goals/Objectives and KPIs

If you haven’t read my recent blog post HERE on establishing KPIs, I would recommend it because to get started, you have to first identify those items you want to achieve as a business and how you plan to measure them. You should spend a significant amount of time/energy really thinking about what you want to see as a business owner and the appropriate way to measure those actionable things.

You should also have these goals/objectives and KPIs documented somewhere. There are many templates you can search for or you can create your own but it’s important that you’ve thought through the 3-5 goals as well as the various tasks that will be completed in order to meet those goals over the year.

Sharing with your Team (hint: more than once!)

It seems obvious that if you create objectives for your company and/or your employees that you would need to share them with company and/or employees but you would be shocked at how often communication breaks down, especially in smaller organizations. It is probably one of the most important, if not the most important part of setting goals for a business to communicate what it is you want to see. In my experience, the cadence of how you should share these would follow a schedule such as:

· Share the list of goals and tasks after first establishing them (hopefully prior to 1/1) and gather feedback. You may not want to adjust based on your employees’ feedback and I’m not saying you should definitely adjust anything but you do want to read visual and auditory clues when sharing with your team to get a sense of whether they expected these goals or if they are confused on how to achieve them. This could mean you need to further articulate your vision or re-think some of the goals completely.

· If any adjustments are made based on the first discussion, share those changes as early as possible with your team and express why those items have changed. If your team made you see something more clearly, give them the credit and explain that they are the reason you are making adjustments. This gets buy-in, shows you’re a committed and empathic boss, and helps the organization stay on track.

· Every month (yes you read that right!), you should be sitting down with your employees and re-visiting what the goals are and how the employee is doing against those goals. Meeting only once per year or twice per year is absolutely not enough to create an expectation that you care about the goal and your employee’s development/performance towards those goals. A leader that cares spends the time developing their employees because in the long-run they save so much time by investing the time up front.

So you have established the goals and communicated (and continue to communicate) those goals, so how do you actually “hold the team accountable” to these goals? Read on…

Holding the Team Accountable

Now that you have your goals established and a monthly process in place to keep reviewing these goals, it’s time to not only measure but more importantly hold the team accountable. So how do you do that?

Well, there are a few different ways to hold people accountable but two broad categories: (1) incentivizing the team or (2) punishing the team. There isn’t necessarily a “right” way to do this and it is very dependent on your own business so it may make sense to hire a consultant or HR specialist to determine the best way for you to run your business.

I’ve used both methods in my experience and would likely recommend you do the same. For example, when you’re setting up the compensation program for your employees, it’s common to build in a way for your employees to make more money albeit a bonus or incentive payment. These payments can be tied to sales, top line revenue, some other growth metric, or even performance on the employees’ actual tasks. If your employee is responsible for writing every procedure within your company, maybe you give them a bonus if they get all of those documented within 6 months or 12 months or whatever makes the most sense.

On the “punishment” side, there should be a measurable way to show an employee that they are not meeting the necessary objectives. The most common is a rating system (and it’s adopted by many of the larger organizations). For example, each objective has a 1-3 ranking (1 being insufficient, 2 being sufficient and 3 being exceptionally sufficient) and each month, you share with your employee where they fall on that ranking. If they have multiple months of consistently being “insufficient”, then you should escalate to try to figure out why they aren’t performing and ultimately after so many months, you should either repurpose them in the business or fire them.

Two REALLY important Things to Do/Consider

The steps are now outlined and are fairly straight forward (1) establish the goals/KPIs, (2) review them with your employees on a regular basis and (3) hold your employees accountable. However, there are two major points I want to make here because this entire article is a bit oversimplified. In reality, this stuff can get a little messy and what I’m about to tell you could make it a little messier but is important, nonetheless.

1) Before you hold an employee accountable (either positively or negatively) think through the goal for a while and question it. If an employee isn’t performing ask yourself “Is this goal really attainable? Is this a standard expectation in my industry for this role? Did I fully share what was expected or were there gray areas?” etc. You should also ask your employees in their monthly meetings, “why do you feel you aren’t performing? How can I support you? Do you feel like you have the training to complete the tasks?” etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should blame yourself if an employee isn’t performing but more often than not, employees just have a lack of clarity. No one wants to do a bad job so you should spend the time trying to uncover why the employee is doing to poorly. By the way, this goes for the opposite direction as well. If an employee is exceeding a goal every month, is the goal too easy? How does it stand up next to your peers in the industry? It may make sense to form a mastermind of folks in your industry to ask these types of questions.

2) After you have fully vetted the goal and determined that it is attainable and is appropriate for your employees you have to actually hold your employees accountable. I know this seems obvious but it is very very challenging to fire someone and especially if you’re a small shop with a good relationship with your employees, it can make the task even more impossible. If you want to run a business successfully though, you absolutely must keep your word. Your business, integrity, and reputation are on the line. If someone isn’t performing for a long time, move them into something else or fire them. If they are exceedingly productive, pay them more and show them they are a valued asset of the business.

I hope these steps help you not only establish and communicate your goals for your business and the future but also that you can hold yourself and your team accountable to them. Good luck!

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