The Truth About Accountability

A culture of accountability has many advantages. Among them are:

  • an increase in team performance (obviously) 
  • high morale (because people are growing and getting shit done)
  • lower stress for you the leader (because you’re dealing with things proactively) ; and
  • business results (when a team is thriving and executing, result have to happen – it can’t be any other way)

If that sounds attractive (and it should), then the question to ask yourself is “how effective am I at building a culture of accountability?” You’ll be among good company if your answer is lower than you’d like it. It’s a common trap—so let’s not stay there. Let’s take it up a notch (or 10). And here’s how you can do it.

First, the truth

You can’t hold someone accountable.

Sure, you could use all to go to tactics we see some parents using – yelling, guilt and shame (I don’t recommend any of those – in your business or with your kids) but would you rather that YOU have to change someone’s behaviour or would you rather THEY do it? Your true goal as a leader is to help people grow their sense of internal accountability. Your role is to help them either want to get it done or to develop the skills to get it done.

If a person has clarity on the need, the drive to do it and the skills and the resources to do it, they will act. The part of leadership that encompasses accountability is being able to identify and shift where a person has a block. It is usually one of those three elements that are lacking.

With that principle understood, let’s look at the tactics.

Step 1 – The Relationship

For communication to be effective, a relationship needs to be healthy. We listen most closely and openly to those we respect and those whom we feel respect and care for us. Knowing this truth, it is critical that your relationships with your team have a healthy foundation of mutual respect and care. So your first step in helping someone develop their accountability is to check with your own internal view of that person. Second, check in with your view of yourself – self-respect is critical.

Where respect and care are lacking, communication will have an edge, and the intent behind the act will flavour the communication in an unhelpful way, whether you mean to or not.

Step 2 – Clear expectations

To be accountable for something, you first need to know what you are to be accountable for. It sounds obvious, but over and over again we’ve seen lack of clarity between the leader’s expectations and that of the team. Put things in writing. Test your communication by having the person repeat back to you the communication they have received.

When it comes to clarity of roles in the business, we are big believers in position contracts that outline 3-7 key outcomes a person is accountable for. These are defined by criteria for success, so everyone is crystal clear on what the expectations are.

(Fill out the form below to download a free sample)

Step 3 – Framework for the conversations

We use a FeedForward system that is a document allowing two parties to have a candid and objective discussion.

(Fill out the form below to download)

The intent behind the discussion is how to help a person move forward vs. pointing out where they are doing badly. The conversation is driven by the team member, not the leader. The leader acts more as a facilitator to help the person discover opportunities for themselves in the three areas we previously identified (clarity on expectations, motivation, skills & resources).

When these conversations happen proactively (before there is a problem), the feeling behind the interaction is way different than when it is too late.

Now, if you have a situation that is already too late—no problem. Still get started immediately, but you’ll need to take complete responsibility for your lack of action to date. Before you can express your dissatisfaction with their performance or behaviour, you may need to own up to not being clear about expectations or giving more guidance before now. Always point the finger at yourself before pointing it at others.

There is a very good chance that if you feel there is a problem, the other person knows it too, or they are just plain unhappy at work. Either way, there is a good reason to get the issues on the table and sort it out. You both stand to benefit.

Ideally, you don’t want to let it get to that stage. Be the leader you know you are. Be assertive and give your team the gift of accountability. With a strong sense of internal accountability, everyone’s lives become better, and that will make your business better.

When your people grow, so does your business— sometimes exponentially.

Good luck and I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Cheers
Jamie

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3 Critical Elements for Recruiting Great People

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To give yourself the best chance of attracting and recruiting great people, you need to have 3 critical elements in place.

The good news is this stuff is not rocket science or necessarily hard to do. Sure it will take a bit of time, but that will be well worth it considering the results it can create in your recruiting efforts.

Let’s take a look the three elements…

#1 – The Foundation

The foundation actually has 3 components within itself:

  • Your business’s purpose – why does your business exist. More simply, why is your business important to your customers?
  • Your Goals and Vision – what are you building?
  • Your Culture – what’s it like to work in your business?

These foundational elements are what give your business juice. They bring energy and meaning that will help convey passion and enthusiasm for those going through the recruiting process.

 

#2 – Your Process

Your recruiting process needs to be simulate what it’s like working in your company. It should be a process that builds desire to work for you yet also is not for the faint at heart. Meaning it needs to be a little be difficult to make it through. This does two things: It means only the best make it through (because they want to), and it weeds out those who are not a good fit because they either can’t be bothered or now realise, this is not the role for them

You can get way more detail on a process here

 

#3 – Your Advertisement

In short, your ad needs to stand out. It needs to clearly convey that you guys are different and you care about who you are hiring. Your ad is your first chance to attract your ideal candidate. And you do that by putting sincere emotion and meaning into your Ad.

For a sample of what a successful ad looks like, click here . This Ad both ourselves and our clients have had amazing success with.

You may need to tweak it to sound right for you, but most importantly, look at the elements in the Ad that make it stand out. I’m sure you’ll agree when you read the Ad, it is unique.

Good luck with it. I’d love to see some comments below about how it works out for you.

The Onboarding Failures That Are Costing You Big

Finding (and keeping) great employees is consistently listed as a top concern of business owners. In fact, a recent study indicates anywhere between 10-25% of new employees jump ship within their first six months on the job. That’s a frustrating and expensive prospect on both sides of the coin, and one which could be greatly reduced with a change to some of the most common employee onboarding mistakes made by companies trying to integrate a new team member. Below are three of the worst barriers to successful onboarding—and some suggestions to combat them.

Problem #1: The Expectation Gap

According to executives interviewed, the top reason new employees leave is that their role wasn’t what they expected when they got hired. Many employees quickly discover that the daily tasks they’re asked to complete don’t tend to match what’s on their job descriptions and fall under the all too overused caveat of “other tasks as assigned.” Employees who find themselves consistently performing unexpected tasks find it difficult to link those tasks to the overall mission of the organization and discontent finds easy purchase in that soil. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest issues to rectify—and it can (and should) be fixed long before an employee’s first day.

The Solution

Dealing with the expectation gap is easily avoided by communicating a realistic job preview from the moment the job advertisement is posted. If you are aware that the job overview contains elements which may exist in a job description but are never used in practice, then they shouldn’t be included in an ad. If you have a position which sees a lot of turnover which doesn’t have to do with the nature of the job (for example, being a “feeder” job or a stepping stone by design to allow movement to other roles in the organization), then it may be time to review the job profile to see where there is a gap between expectation and reality. The best place to reinforce the picture of what day-to-day life will be like in the role is during the interview. This provides ample information for the candidate to consider the true nature of the job before accepting, allows the opportunity to ask questions and provides the added value of being able to view their body language for clues as to what they truly feel.

Problem #2: A Lack of Preparation

How many times has a new employee shown up for their first day while someone, somewhere, is scrambling to set up computer access, provide access to work areas, create an email address or telephone extension—in some cases, even finding an empty desk to work at? When an employer is unprepared for a new hire, it sends the signal loud and clear that the employee is not a valued addition to the team and makes it incredibly difficult to integrate into the culture.

The Solution

People are only able to work at their best when they are given the right tools. A simple checklist which can be accessed by any team member responsible for setting up the new hire is a great way to complete tasks before the first day and eliminate confusion over who is responsible for what. (At SalesUp! We use Trello, which is perfect for this type of task.) If setting up a workstation requires the purchase of new equipment, involving the employee over any requirements for specific equipment (such as left/right-handed implements, or any accommodations which may not have surfaced to this point) will make the employee feel invested from the get-go, and that investment pays off when it comes time for employees to decide whether they are going to stick with a job.

Problem #3: Overwhelm and Abandonment

Starting a new job is incredibly overwhelming. From navigating office hallways to matching faces and names to interacting with customers and filling out reams of paperwork, it’s a challenging time which can result in natural second-thoughts from employees if they don’t feel they have the support to be useful members of the organization.

To be clear, alone-time is good—even essential to let employees settle into their space—but leaving them with hoards of policy manuals and no one to help answer their questions is not. To combat this, ensure that new employees have a mentor to help them through the challenging early weeks, and tap into existing employee strengths to match them with the right people. Have someone who is an extrovert and great at ice-breaking? Have them handle team introductions. Has someone in the organization performed the employee’s role? Consider a short mentorship, or at the least have them check-in and see how things are going during the first critical weeks. Of course, this doesn’t negate the value of having manager support, but peer-mentorships can go a long way to solidifying the sense of belonging that is critical to cultural development. They don’t call onboarding “organizational socialization” for nothing…

The Take Home

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Have a formalized process (and if you don’t, make one). It can be difficult to allot resources to creating processes when you aren’t in a hiring position, but adequate foresight can eliminate so many onboarding issues before the scramble of having to find a new employee.

If you need ideas on how to best handle an onboarding solution that is customized to your organization, contact us – we’d love to help.

Best of all – if you have any tips or best practices, let us know in the comments below!

 

 

How to Avoid Being “That Boss”

Time to Watch: 3:16

Whether you call yourself a Boss, Leader, or Owner, there’s a very fine line between setting the pace and driving the pace. Knowing the difference is critical to the health of your team. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Boss think” on this one, and it can be detrimental to the health and productivity of your team. Here’s how to effectively set the pace as a leader, no matter what stage your business is at.

What we’re talking about here is your effect on the team in terms of your behaviour around implementation and execution. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you aren’t held to account in the same way that your people are, but to echo a sometimes-overused phrase, you really do need to lead by example to get the results you want.

You can’t create separate standards for yourself and your team, because the difference will be stark, and the result will be the creation of an “us vs. them” culture which does nothing to promote, ingenuity, motivation or retention—all cornerstones of a successful business.

If you’re looking to be a team and work as a team, then you need to actively participate as one of the team, regardless of how you view yourself in the culture of the business.

What are your biggest challenge jumping into the trenches? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you watch this and think: “If there’s no ‘I’ in team, why am I doing all the work?” This read is for you.

Get out there and have fun with it, and if you’ve hit a stumbling block, we can help. Reach out and let us know what you need.

Cheers,

 

Keep in the loop with our latest rapid training videos on SalesUp!TV

If This Is How You Handle Employee Performance, You May Be Doing it Wrong

The Employee Performance Problem

Ask any well-meaning manager what an employee performance appraisal should accomplish, and you’ll usually hear answers along the lines of: “to categorize the organization, improve employee performance and boost motivation.”

While these are all critical aims for an organization if the answer to how they currently accomplish this is through an annual performance review—then there are problems with the system. Namely, those annual performance appraisals generally only serve one of the three purposes listed above—and it isn’t performance or motivation.

So, How Did We Get Here?

The long and short of employee performance reviews is that they are derived from military practice, were never designed to foster improvement, and have long been used as a tool to cull an organization of their bottom performers. According to the Harvard Business Review, they also serve to punish past behaviour at the expense of achieving the desired future performance that is critical for organizational survival.

So, the question begs: If employees hate them, managers don’t see their value and an organization isn’t benefiting from them—why not ditch them all together?

The Elimination Problem

Well, while I was going to title this post “The Stone Age Called and They Want Their Appraisal Back,” that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, as ditching the yearly recap isn’t always the best solution either. So many initiatives are tied to it, including, planning and compensation. However, the employment landscape over the last few decades has made it clear that the conversation needs to shift away from the metrical to the malleable.

Anyone familiar with the psychological principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs knows that motivation comes in various levels: from the basic (like food, shelter, and wages), to psychological (belonging, achievement, respect of others, etc.) and finally to self-actualization (morality, problem-solving, creativity, etc.)

Although this theory has its critics, the basic premise is that human beings are striving for self-worth and acknowledgment—and if you aren’t creating an environment where this (and the resulting performance growth) can occur—your employees are going to look to another organization to fill those needs.

The take-home is it’s no longer realistic to rank an employee with performance metrics once per year, give them either a raise or a performance improvement plan, and expect that the basic needs you do satisfy (like a regular paycheque) will be enough to sustain them and motivate them to perform to a level that will grow your organization.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s no secret that supported, engaged employees do better—and when they do better, you do better. The goal of employee performance is to elicit behaviour that supports the organization’s bottom line while fulfilling some of those psychological needs your employees crave—and giving them the tools to do it effectively. There are several ways to get this done—and yes, you can keep your year-end appraisal—if you focus on its value as a recap of the year. A good rule of thumb is that there should never be anything in a performance appraisal that is a surprise for the employee. Other strategies could include:

  • Linking goals to key company objectives like the mission/vision (they “why you exist” stuff)
  • Tying goal achievement to collaboration and communication (not every task needs to be a group project, but increased collaboration and information sharing leads to increases across the board)
  • Training managers to check in consistently (this allows for accurate course corrections throughout the year while retaining employee autonomy. The key here is manager training)
  • Allowing the employee access to the tools, resources, and training to allow them to successfully fill any knowledge gaps they have.

Of course amended performance measures won’t solve all team issues (for an idea of what other issues employers regularly encounter and how to fix them, read this page) but it’s a good support system for overall team engagement. And of course, we’re more than happy to help with any issues you do have  in finding the system that’s right for your business.

 

How about you? How do you facilitate the employee performance process, and what challenges have you encountered along the way? What do you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

The Hidden Profit Centre in Your Business

Think HR has no bearing on profitability? Think again…

Having long been denounced as nothing more than a cost centre and a necessary part of doing business, the people management aspects of an organization (specifically HR) have been overlooked as an integral component of the profit structure of an organization. The link, however, is a lot stronger than many businesses have traditionally thought.

In a recent study on management practices in Fortune 1000 companies, the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California found that employee involvement measures (that traditionally sit well beneath the HR umbrella) show a solid ROI and link to the bottom line.

For small to medium-sized businesses who don’t even have an HR department, the impact of this study is even larger, as decisions made at owner-run businesses see an immediate trickle-down effect due to the smaller work structures, and can see a positive impact in the bottom linke much sooner than a larger organization. The key is in increasing the employee commitment to the organization.

Any one of the following measures can be implemented by a company to see a lasting improvement in financial returns (not to mention the cost-savings garnered from reduced turnover):

  • Employees generally feel that if an investment is made in them, they will return that investment in-kind. Establish a feeling of “repricosity” through:
    • Information-sharing
    • Skills training
    • Encouragement of ownership thinking
    • Fostering “buy-in” for organizational change measures
    • De-centralizing decision-making
  • Using technology for process improvement, not just cost-cutting benefits. If employees are brought into the process on the ground level, working backwards and can have input into process design, hey are more willing to manage change, and feel a greater benefit of new technology as a tool for them—not just because it’s cheaper for the organization
  • Building a culture which values job-security – which means attaching value to the person over the employee number.

Each of these measures is fiscally achievable in one way or another, even for very small businesses and engage in the employee’s higher level needs, which leads to increased productivity, better customer interactions, a willingness to tackle challenges and stick with the company–all which have a positive impact on profit.

Small tweaks can often have the greatest impact on profitabilty, particularly if they are seemingly unrelated to the bottom-line. Remember that everything in your organization starts and ends with culture, so before you tweak your marketing, sales prices, or slash costs to boost productivity, have a critical look at how investments to your people-practices can pay you back in spades.

How Strong is Your Network?

It’s been said that your net worth is a reflection of your network, and when it comes to the sales and marketing of your business, a good network is an extremely valuable tool.

However, it’s important to note that a network is not just the sum of the people you know.

It takes strategy and intention to create a network that will help grow your business. Watch to discover what makes a healthy network, and how to make it happen for your business.

 

Roles and Responsibilities Made Simple

Every employee should be crystal clear about the roles they play in your organization, right? Well, why does the majority of the world rely on outdated and confusing job descriptions to convey that message? It’s a flawed system, and there is so much you can be getting from your employees when their role is communicated in the right way.

Team Alignment: Profit Sharing

Your employees don’t have to be owners to share in ownership thinking – in fact, ownership thinking can be critical to the success of your company. Profit sharing can be a good way of creating transparency and ownership – but it’s not for every organization. See when and how this tool can work for you – and when it won’t.