Brush your teeth, put your shoes on, do your homework!
Be on time, answer that call, make the sale!
As leaders, whether it be at home or in the workplace we tread a fine line. We are expected to hold our people accountable without acting as a controlling micro-manager.
Every school morning is a battle. I am sure that most parents have, at some point, had the “we are going to be late” argument. The more you push, the slower they move. The slower they move, the more you push. It is a crusade against time. A tug of war feud between yourself and a school age inchworm.
This morning was no different. I expected as much, as not only did we have to get ready, but it’s also a Monday. It began with needing five more minutes in bed to “wake up”. Luckily breakfast was planned. Nana saved him a chocolate covered longjohn. I have never seen someone take twenty minutes to eat one measly donut. Our five minutes behind is now fifteen. I tell him, “We have to leave in eight minutes. Go brush, make sure your backpack is all set, and get your shoes on”. He responds with, “Stop rushing me”! I explain to him that I am not rushing him, I am simply holding him accountable to get to the bus stop on time. He proceeds to do the things I told him to do, all while mumbling, “Pfft, accountability, more like controlling, ugh”. To avoid a before school argument, I let it slide. While it set the morning a bit off kilter, it did inspire me.
How do we accomplish holding our teams accountable without being seen as a nagging, controlling “Karen/Kevin” ?
- Expectation Setting: “Five minutes early is ten minutes late”. “If you got time to lean, you got time to clean”. Make sure your team members know what the standards are. Whether it be punctuality, filling down time, or even following basic processes, don’t keep your expectations a secret. Make them clear and uniform for the entire group. Accountability leads to responsibility. When your team accepts the responsibility, the reminders and the prodding will cease. While our mornings are filled with subtle hints to stay on track, five minute warnings, and a side of sass, we are always out the door at 6:56am.
- Make it Important: Why does it matter if we don’t update the repeat customers file so that they are aware of the warranty coverage? Who cares that you didn’t note the projected ETA on that 4L60E? Will anyone actually know that I didn’t ask for the customer’s email address? Some small steps in your business process may seem insignificant if you allow for blinders to be on. Explain why you require what you do and what other aspects of the job can be affected if they are skipped. No one wants to be on the receiving end of a customer call that wasn’t properly informed. “If you miss the bus, I will have to drive you to school and then I will be late for work”. While the effect may not affect the person directly, it disturbs the workflow and processes for the rest of the team.
- Repercussions: You can only let things slide for so long before implementing consequences. Some find motivation with the carrot. If you do X, then you get Y. Others will only seek to change if they are promised a punishment or risk having something taken away. Follow through on any promised rewards or penalties tied to your expectations. If I have to drive him to school, it has been promised that I will sing NKOTB loudly (and horribly) with all the windows rolled down.
- Be the Example: You can not hold your team accountable to the standards that you set if you are not living up to them yourself. You must allow your team to hold you accountable as well. If you are always five minutes late, but you expect everyone else to be ten minutes early, your expectation is weak and loses credibility. Be the epitome of the guidelines, values and goals that are in place. Lunch is always packed. Coffee has been brewed. I am always ready to walk out of the door at 6:54am.
By creating a team that is accountable for their actions, you are providing them with the power to embrace and own their job responsibilities.
Lay the foundation for success by setting your expectations, following through, and most importantly not missing the bus.