What does accountability look like?

It’s that time of year again when budgets for the year ahead need to be agreed & final figures for year-end are either admired or buried as far from sight as possible.

Being in sales for my entire working life, it’s always been fairly straightforward in every position I’ve held, hit your sales target. When it was just me as a sales person it was arguably easier as it was just down to me & my ability. As you progress as a manager it becomes somewhat more complex but in simple terms the principle was always the same. Hit your targets, whatever they were.

Throw in a team of people & several stores in different locations & all of a sudden things get harder. Much harder.

But where does it stop? Who ultimately takes accountability?

If you have someone on your team that is under-performing the standard steps would be (I know I’m generalising here) informal chat, formal chat, PIP, disciplinary then dismissal. Then the process starts again, recruit, train, mentor, stretch & so on.

The thing is, what if the manager who is managing is the problem? The chances of the person managing them has the same level/degree of competence is slim; so if there was the opportunity, would they do things any differently?

Keeping your cool in times of need will no doubt help you make better decisions when it comes to accountability & it should too. After all, your actions & decisions can carry a really hefty price – at times people could lose their jobs through badly managed performance improvement plans or even redundancy situations.

So how do we encourage accountability & to that end, how do we hold people accountable? I took inspiration from the book The Leadership Challenge;

  • Make certain that everyone in your business, no matter their role or task, has a customer. The customer can be internal or external but each person needs to know who he/she is serving

  • Substantially increase signature authority at all levels

  • Remove or reduce as many unnecessary approval steps

  • Eliminate as many rules as possible

  • Decrease the amount of routine work

  • Automate routine work wherever possible

  • Assign non routine jobs

  • Support the exercise of independent judgement

  • Encourage creative solutions to problems

  • Define jobs more broadly – as projects, not tasks

  • Provider greater freedom of access, vertically & horizontally, inside & outside

When you learn to take your own pride & insecurities out of problem solving, knowing your role in the challenge can be a really important step. If your team were to rate your performance as a leader, most of their frustrations (if anyJ) will likely come from not being able to utilise their talent & energy. The cause or reason for this could stem from your own ineptitude or worse, your lack of trust. It should come as no surprise that when asked for your biggest strength, energy, trust & commitment will be some of the more common phrases used.

There’s a billion dollar business on what the best strategies for inspiring teams or delivering success however here’s a place to start:

What 1 addition can you make that was different from today that will improve your customer’s experience or your team’s performance? These daily changes soon start to add up & will make a difference. That can’t be a bad thing, can it especially when you do it too.

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