As a new manager, holding employees accountable is a skill you must master. It ensures that every team member knows and takes responsibility for their actions. But, as easy as it may sound, the reality is that many first-time managers struggle to set clear expectations and a clear path for their team. In this blog post, I’ll show you how to hold employees accountable with the help of a four-essential puzzle.
If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, I’d like to summarize it in one famous quote in the leadership world: “Accountability is the glue that ties commitments to results.” Any team member in your company must know their goals, responsibilities, and expectations and get feedback on their results. That’s why you, as the manager play a unique role. As the team leader, your job should be to show members how to accept and commit to the responsibility their role implies. People will engage when they receive enough information and have the following support from you as a manager. I call it the four-piece puzzle for accountability.
We’ll explore each one of these elements.
I’m always preaching to my Accelerator students about clarity because you will be ineffective at what you do in more ways than one if you don’t have it. Now the trick is to ensure you have gained clarity on the essential components of your role and department.
To sum it up, you must be clear in the following:
Clarity is like having a GPS to guide you in the right direction. Adding this component to your management will help you hold employees accountable and provide bigger and better results.
The second piece in our puzzle to hold employees accountable is providing clear expectations to your team members. You need to articulate what everyone must do to achieve the goals, results, and responsibilities you have outlined.
When your team is not 100% clear on what’s expected from them, there are no indicators to hold them to. As a result, you’ll notice these symptoms:
All of these symptoms keep you from achieving the desired results. That is why providing clarity in the first place is so crucial; without that clarity, you can’t possibly set clear expectations.
First, team expectations, which refer to what you, as the manager, expect from your team. For example, is it to achieve a certain level of sales or perhaps level the number of inventory the company handles? Knowing your team’s expectations will give you a clear path to hold your team accountable.
The second type of expectation revolves around behaviors. Does your team need to conduct themselves in a certain way? For example, this applies if you run a customer service department and must follow some guidelines when answering or addressing clients.
The third type of expectation is those individual expectations based on responsibilities. What does each team member foresees by becoming part of your team? Perhaps they want to learn more or be challenged in a way that keeps them learning and applying all the improvements to their work.
Each category must be clear to have a solid accountability culture.
Now, of course, there are specific strategies that you can use to make sure that your expectation setting is received the way you intend, and if you want a deeper dive on this in terms of how specifically you can do this, check out the details of The New Manager Accelerator because it’s within the accelerator that I go deep on providing students with specific tips and scripts when it comes to expectation setting.
The third piece of our accountability puzzle is implications.
Implications are the piece of the framework that most people need help with. If team members are unaware of what’s at stake, why should they believe their actions have any consequences?
Let me give you an example. A few months ago, I got on a call with a manager seeking leadership development through the New Manager Accelerator Live Group Coaching Program. I l always like to talk to people before they enter the program because I want to ensure they would be a good fit rather than someone who will not make the most of the program.
When I asked her WHY she was searching for development, she said something very telling. She said her manager had put her on a performance improvement plan, prompting her to seek support.
But then, and this is the telling part, she said, “I kinda feel like my manager is calling my bluff or putting me on this performance plan to scare me into action.”
Of course, her manager needed to properly articulate the implications or consequences behind her not improving; otherwise, she would have taken it seriously.
Somewhere along the line, her manager must have set the precedent that she doesn’t follow through on what she says she will—leaving her to conclude that it was not a real issue.
I know I’m talking about a fellow manager in this case, but the same is true for you. If you don’t articulate the consequences and if, on top of it, you are the type of person that is wobbly on follow-through, then no one will believe you when you say things need to get done.
We train people how to act by our actions AND inactions.
The final piece on how-to-hold-eployees-accountable-puzzle is commitment, which involves gaining the buy-in and dedication of your team members to uphold accountability.
Remember, just because you told a team member to do something doesn’t mean they will if you have not solicited their commitment. In fact, without their commitment, it becomes easier for them to say things like, “Well, I didn’t know, or I didn’t understand.”
You must commit to doing what you say you will, whether providing them the support they need or holding them to their word. What works best is leading by example, demonstrating your commitment to accountability, and inspiring others to follow. So do what you say you will, whether providing them the support they need or holding them to their word.
In summary, following this four-piece puzzle can help you create a culture of accountability in your management approach. Don’t forget that building accountability takes time and consistent effort, but productivity, engagement, and results are well worth the benefits.
September 21, 2021