Times are changing. Every day, small business is taking on a more responsible role in the community, and in the world, and those changes are developing from the inside out, as part of an evolving corporate culture. A greater emphasis on authenticity in your message and developing a supportive, but effective, corporate culture, coupled with a clear movement toward personal accountability at every level of business, is creating new opportunities for growth, from both the bottom line profit and the employee satisfaction perspective.
In our recent articles, we have been building what we believe is a strong case for the positive impact that these changes can have on your business and in the next few articles, we will emphasize how to make adjustments in your internal operational strategies that work to your best advantage, from accountability, to policies and procedures, to planning your ultimate exit strategy.
One of the keystones to your success is developing a culture of Accountability. Simply defined, accountability is accepting responsibility for your actions. Historically, this has been interpreted as “owning up to your mistakes.” But, there is another side to accountability: “Taking responsibility for doing the job well.” Rather than simply accepting responsibility for mistakes, what if we cultivate a culture of doing the job right in the first place, by taking responsibility for the expected outcome? This may seem like a simple semantic difference, however, that slight shift from “fixing a problem” to “doing it right the first time” creates a new, more positive view that supports your big picture. When employees and owners are focused in the same direction – one that supports the company’s goals and strategic plans – company growth and increased profits are sure to follow.
Having an Accountability System established in your workplace (using Policies and Procedures that will be addressed in a future article) will accelerate the process of establishing accountability in your company.
Here’s a simple Five Step Plan you can use to promote accountability in your business.
- Make Sure Your Team Understands the Big Picture – Any accountability system has a far greater chance of success if everyone who is expected to be accountable understands the intended outcome. Take some time to meet with individual team leaders, management and team members to convey the vision and assure that everyone is enrolled in – or at least has a clear understanding of – the vision you want to create.
- Have Clearly Stated (Written) Expectations – It has been said that “one bad apple can spoil the bunch.” Such is the case in business as well. If even one person does not live up to the stated expectation, then the entire team can fail. It follows that if the expectations for a project are not made clear in the beginning, then accountability also falls by the wayside. Be sure your teams clearly understand the expectation for every project and if you have to, repeat the expectation until you are certain that it is made crystal clear.
- Create Accountability “Mastermind” Groups – To bolster the concept and actions around accountability, there is nothing like having a group to which you are held accountable. Mastermind groups are a great way to provide an open forum of communication, share ideas, create solutions and work together to overcome weaknesses and challenges. Consider having team leaders and team members “cross-pollinate” too. In other words, have team members working on separate projects work together in a mastermind environment. Oftentimes, you will discover that the person who has the least amount of experience in a particular area can offer a simple solution that no one else thought of, simply because they weren’t aware of what everyone else thought wasn’t “possible.”
- Be Clear About the Consequences of Failure – For any accountability system to be truly effective, teams need to clearly understand that there are consequences for failure to complete a project. So, be sure that you have specific written guidelines for what teams can expect in the event of delays, failures and mistakes. Without consequences, your system won’t be taken seriously.
- Reward and Recognize Success – Just as you should have consequences for failure, it is equally (or perhaps more) important that you have a reward and recognition system in place. As we have strongly emphasized in previous articles, employees will do more for recognition than they will do even for money. Consider how you can provide extra rewards, perks and benefits to reward a job well done.
Having a system of accountability in place is just another step toward moving your company culture into a place that supports growth, enhances the very best in your employees and promotes an attitude of ownership that leads to successful outcomes for your company.