Lots of managers espouse the importance of holding people accountable. But truth be told, most avoid it like the plague. Fear of not being “fair,” fear of appearing heavy handed, fear of not being liked. It’s time to stop the hand-wringing and get down to basics.
First, use the job description as your main source for accountabilities. Use it as the basis for hiring or promoting people into a position. It’s an objective way to screen candidates and assure they will have the skills and experience to do the job. Ask for specific examples of how they have performed these functions in the past. Remember, the job description provides the major accountabilities. It is not a procedural “how-to” document.
Share the job description with the incumbent so they know their accountabilities. Verify that there is agreement about the major accountabilities and let them know this will be used for training, coaching and performance feedback.
Because the job description is focused on job accountabilities, other job descriptions can be used to assist people who want to expand their skills, responsibilities or explore other opportunities.
Second – Have KPI’s: Make sure you have objective ways to measure and monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and communicate those methods to the people performing the jobs. KPI’s need to be aligned with strategic objectives and initiatives and involving the incumbent in the process of identifying ways to monitor and measure success will ensure more buy-in than if KPIs are handed down form “on high.” Follow though by providing feedback about performance. Successful managers know it’s their job to manage both people and processes. They communicate expectations, monitor the key performance indicators to assure things are on track and communicate information on a timely basis.
It’s important that employees have the opportunity to provide input and feedback if the measures or KPIs aren’t realistic or relevant and why. After all, they are the ones doing the job, know it best and want to do a good job.
Third, Stop Overcompensating for Under-performers: Here’s the deal: Holding people accountable isn’t always easy, particularly with people who are under-performing. Sometimes managers think it’s easier to do the work themselves, or they can do it better, or it will take less time than to train and monitor and coach someone else.
The question then becomes, is it easier to do your work as a manager and their work, or to hold them accountable? Unless you are willing to communicate expectations, provide the resources for people to do their jobs and hold your people accountable, you’re the one who is under-performing and not accountable.
Fourth – Accountability is a Two Way Street
Remember that employees have to be accountable for their own performance. If a manager provides clear expectations, timely and objective feedback and opportunities for coaching or training to improve, then it’s up to the person to be accountable for the results produced. It then becomes their choice to be accountable.
For accountability to be the new normal, organizations must align human resource and operational policies and practices with strategic objectives. That means having a good performance management system, the right compensation and reward structures, and training and development opportunities in place to support job performance and corporate objectives.
The result will be alignment, integrity and effectiveness.
That’s accountability. That’s success. That’s the New Normal.
Marty Stanley is a national speaker and consultant on personal and organizational change. Her new book From Type A to Type T: How to Be a Transformational Leader in a Bottom- Line World will be released this spring.
Stop worrying and start taking action by contacting Marty today: 816-695-5453 firstname.lastname@example.org