How to Be the Proactive Leader your Business Needs You to Be

We’ve recently discussed the importance of utilizing internal audits for your company and the questions you need to ask to get there. Now it’s time to think about what “little” things you can change once you get those responses.

 

Now remember, everyone, and we mean everyone, in your organization must answer these questions to get a full picture of the status of your company. The process of asking all employees for their input, if done properly, goes a long way toward fostering an engaged work force.

 

When analyzing the responses you need to isolate where the main issues seem to be; is it a lack of excitement? Trust issues? Or problems with your supply chain partners perhaps?

 

Though a work day doesn’t need to be thrilling, having an air of excitement is important to keep your business running smoothly into the future. Do your employees look forward to coming to work every day, or is it a grind for them, and why? How would you describe your managers’ approach? You certainly don’t need cheerleaders and over-the-top ‘rah-rah’ enthusiasm, but you do need a respectful environment. Sometimes the difference is as simple as employees being greeted as they enter and told they are appreciated for being there.

 

Employee’s attitudes and excitement are transferred to others, especially suppliers and customers. Your employees can either detract from the company or they can present a positive image of the community. How often to you check to see what you employees are saying about you, whether online or in face-to-face interactions? If they’re only sharing negative perceptions, then that becomes the perceived image of the company.

 

Sure we all want to be the employer of choice in the community, but we often forget the little (and easy to fix) things that keep people with you or drive them away. How long has it been since you have looked at lunch rooms, restrooms and work areas? Are they clean; are they up to date? Do they make it easy for employees to get through their days?

 

And what do you see when you look at the exterior of your facility? Is your parking adequate and free of potholes and unsafe areas? These items might seem like inconsequential or minor details, but to employees dirty or inadequate facilities are often the reason they will leave your company.

 

Trust is another big motivator for employee retention and success; without it, employees don’t feel that they have a place in your organization. James Autry in his presentation Love and Profit states that there are no secrets in the workplace, yet organizations try to cover up and conceal information that many employees already know. Honest communications within a company promotes trust at all levels. In survey after survey, an item of concern for all employees is to “feel like they are in the know”. Keep you internal communication high and you’ll ensure that your employees feel heard and trusted.

 

However, often the issues that keep growth and success at bay arise outside of your building and immediate employee base. If you notice a consistent issue in your internal audit responses relating to supply chain partners, then you need to pay close attention, as they are an often-forgotten key to any company’s success.

 

Take a good look at your business practices when dealing with suppliers. How loyal are they to you? Do you continuously beat them down to where they can’t make a profit? Does your company broadcast and leverage your suppliers’ prices to secure more competitive prices from others? If so- what kind of ethical behavior are you exhibiting to your team? If you constantly display scheming behavior like this, people will take notice. Loyal suppliers will move on and your employees will doubt your ethical convictions in every other area, leading to a devastating lack of trust.

 

Internal audits and SWOT Analyses are great to do at least once a year. But the very best organizations are constantly looking at these kinds of questions on a regular basis.

 

It is how the proactive leaders keep an eye on the pulse of the organization, how they’re always are the employer of choice, and it’s how they keep from falling into the trap of the status quo. It is why proactive leaders have a growing list of loyal employees, suppliers, and customers that allow for profitability in the business, now, and well into the future.

 

Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.

20 More Questions that will prepare your Business for the Future

Last week we started discussing the questions that everyone in your organization needs to answer honestly to properly start an effective internal audit and prepare your company for the future. To continue, below are 20 more questions that must be answered thoroughly to get a real picture of how your company is doing today and how things look for tomorrow.

 

Thinking about your company’s Continuous Improvement – Do you have an ongoing Continuous Improvement or Lean Process program? Have you recently or will you in the near future look at process improvements? (Answer for both office and shop floor)

 

About your company’s Technology – Is your company utilizing technology to its full advantage? Do you or others keep up to date on the kind of technology utilized in your business? Can technology help you be a better supplier to your customers?

 

About your company’s Ease –Is it easy to do business with your unit or company? How would you describe the ease from the customer side? What about from the supplier side? How much “red tape” or duplication is required in the business? Are surveys used to collect this information?

 

About your company’s Excitement – Is there a sense of excitement in your business?

 

About your company’s Strengths – What are the three main strengths of your unit or business? Why are they strengths? What do they do for your organization? (Really build on these)

 

About your company’s Threats – What are the three main threats to your business or your unit? Why are they threats? How could or do they damage you?

 

About your company’s Competition – How is your company viewed by your competition?

 

And about your company’s Focus – Who does your company primarily focus on- shareholders, employees, or customers? Is the focus where it needs to be?

 

Once you have gathered responses from everyone in your organization, discuss them, tear them apart, and allow for open and honest input. But most of all, don’t just put the results in a file somewhere, use it to develop a strategic plan.

 

Personnel Profiles of Columbus is available to help organizations Connect the Value of People to Your Business Strategy. We will assist you in developing and utilizing an Audit Plan that can be used to prepare your company and your people for the future. Contact us for more details and to get started preparing for tomorrow.

Questions that will prepare your Business for the Future

I recently wrote a piece that encouraged the reader to “never stop thinking about tomorrow.” Unless you, your company, and your employees are fully prepared for the future, everything you have worked so hard to develop could all be lost. Believe me, tomorrow will be different and the challenges will be great.

 

One of the best ways to prepare for the future is to begin by assessing where you are today. One way to do this is called an internal organizational audit and it is different from the traditional SWOT Analysis.

 

But before you start an internal organizational audit, several points must be emphasized. First, all involved must be totally honest in their evaluations and answers, if not you are just blowing smoke up your own shorts and wasting time and resources. And second, use all available people in your group or organization, not just management, to get the best and most complete picture of your company’s status.

 

Below are 25 questions that everyone in your company must ask and answer in order to help you better move into the future with success.

 

Thinking about your company’s Vision and MissionIs the Corporate vision and mission shared and understood by all? How is this done? How often?

 

About your company’s Customer Base – What is your customer base? Do you like what you see? Are your customers loyal? Will your customers allow you to make a profit?

 

About your company’s Skills – Do all current members of the team have the necessary skills to function in the future? What areas of training do you believe are necessary?

 

About your company’s Supply Chain Partnerships – Are your suppliers competitive? How do you know? Are your inventory turns competitive? Can they be better? What links in the chain can be removed to make your organization more competitive?

 

About your company’s Products or Services – Do your products or services meet the needs of the changing world? How do your products/services compare to the competition in terms of quality, price, and delivery? How are your products/services really viewed in the marketplace? What new product/service initiatives are critical?

 

About your company’s Internal Communications – What is the state of internal communications? Does the company have monthly or quarterly meetings with employees? Is there an emergency communication plan for accidents, weather emergencies, and disasters? If there is a plan, who is the spokesperson and are they prepared?

 

And about your company’s Cooperation – What is the level of cooperation within your business unit? Does your unit experience what you would describe as “turf battles” or “power struggles”? How are differences resolved internally?

 

Come back next week as we’ll finish up with the questions you need to ask yourself for an internal audit, and what steps you can take to utilize the audit’s results.

4 Steps to Improved Employee Engagement

Fleetwood Mac and sound business advice might seem like an odd pairing, but you never know where inspiration may come from. In their classic song Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow we are reminded “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow, don’t stop, it‘ll soon be here. It’ll be better than before, yesterday is gone, yesterday is gone.”

 

And it’s those ‘yesterdays’ that are such a tricky thing to get past.

 

My work often brings me into contact with leaders of organizations stuck in the status quo of yesterday. They all want a greater tomorrow, but they are not sure how to make that happen.

 

Below are a few steps that you can take to help ensure that tomorrow will be better for your employees, your company, and your customers.

 

Set the tone with your attitude– What is your attitude? Founder of Wendy’s Dave Thomas noted that “success starts inside. Unless your own attitude and beliefs are right, you can never be a success in the world around you.”

 

So do you have the right attitude to lead your team into tomorrow? Are you a positive individual? Do you believe that it’s important to treat customers, employees, and suppliers with respect and dignity? Do you believe that employees are real assets in the business? Your attitude is visible to everyone every day, and it will always set the tone for the environment. Take a look in the mirror and decide if you already posses what you want your employees to emulate going forward.

 

Have the Generosity gene – According to Jack Welch, the generosity gene is “an in the bones personality – a deep craving to help other people improve, grow, thrive, and succeed.” This begs the question: are you promoting strong onboarding of new employees that encourages their learning and development?

 

Training and development is important for two reasons- 1. It improves skills, and 2. It makes employees feel like they are important. Good leaders help employees feel valued. Employees must be encouraged to participate in their performance development- it gives them skin in the game. So do your employees know and understand their role; why they get paid? Does your company make it clear to all what the Vision/Mission of the organization is (and actually stay consistent in this while growing your people)?

 

If employees really believe your company’s story and statement, because they see its real-world effects every single day on the job, it helps make their job relevant and fosters belief in the organization.

 

Create Pride in the Company – Employees want to work for a reputable firm that helps make a difference in their community. Make sure you encourage involvement in community activities, both on the personal and corporate level. Remember, companies are only guests in the community, and if you want to see more tomorrows you’ll have to make an effort to contribute.

 

Care about Employees- This is one of the most important keys to having engaged employees, because how can you expect them to care about your business unless you care about them?  Get out in their areas, welcome them, check in with them, help them celebrate, and truly stand with them to help them through tough times.  This can’t ever be totally accomplished by words and policy; ultimately you have to prove your loyalty to them before you get it in return.

 

Though you must always take lessons from the past, we all need to stop living in yesterday to start moving into a better tomorrow. Contact us at Personnel Profiles, Inc. of Columbus for more ideas on how to make your work place exciting, productive, and profitable long past today.

 

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly updates and business insights.

 

Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.

A Checklist for Improved Employee Performance

Years ago I worked with a company that had a parking lot without marked spaces. This wasn’t intentional, but over the years the lines had become faded and in many instances they were totally missing.

 

When the employees arrived at work they would park in whichever manner seemed best to them; squeezing their car into whatever odd spot they could create. This was even more complicated by the fact that second-shift was trying to find parking before first-shift had vacated the lot. As you can imagine, it was a mess. The employees were unhappy and the managers complained about how idiotic the employees were acting.

 

As I began to work with the management, I tried to help them understand that the employees were not stupid, but merely needed lines to show them where to park. Soon after, parking lines were painted on the blacktop and instantly every employee parked in the correct direction and there were even spaces for visitors and vendors to park, plus extra spots for those second-shift employees who arrived early. Soon what had been a daily aggravation to everyone in the company was easily eliminated.

 

Parking lines are valuable because they give us boundaries to make the job of parking easier. They serve to give order and eliminate chaos. The same is true when employees have a clear understanding of their job.

 

The Gallup Survey, in measuring strong workplaces, identified that the number one link to employee engagement, company profitability, employee retention, and productivity could be found within the answer of “Do I know what is expected of me at work?”

 

Employees who know what is expected of them at work don’t work in a vacuum, and they are more willing to accept responsibility for the quality and quantity of their work. When employees have a sense of direction and understand their role in the organization, they are better able to perform as a valuable asset. Listed below is a checklist of the times you can make you employees know what is expected of them and to keep them “parking the right way in your lot”.

 

  • Beginning early – Job postings and interviewing must be very clear on what the job/jobs entail. What are the expectations and why does the position exist?
  • Right after the Hire – It is important that the new employee, at any level of the organization, understands their role and what outcomes are expected. Again, make sure they know why the position exists. In other words, “why do they get paid?”
  • When Training – Training is not for fixing. Send talented employees to training to learn new skills and gain deeper insight and knowledge. With employees that do need to “be fixed”, create a plan that focuses on the improvement needed and set responsible time lines. Set expectations and explain consequences for not meeting expectations. Remember this does not have to be confrontational, just clear and assertive.
  • Continuously, from the Manager – Never lose your focus. Always, in every conversation and interaction, discuss the need for excellence and foster an environment that encourages employee discretionary effort. It is important to focus on removing roadblocks and barriers to help make the employee’s job more doable. Give continuous feedback and provide support without removing responsibility. You and the company paint the lines, and the employee will park without a traffic cop being there to make them do it.
  • When Reviewing- Sometimes the lines in a parking lot need to be moved or repainted. The same is true with job responsibilities. Customers, technologies, and materials may change, so it is necessary for the employee and the manager to have good open communication about the role of the job. Change the role if it is required, but make sure your employee has a clear understanding about the new role and explain the why.
  • And when Celebrating – It is important to thank team members for their accomplishments. Words like- thank you, I appreciate that, you really did a great job are very meaningful and help you show your appreciation for the work done. Remember that you must be sincere; people know when you are being sincere, or if you are just pandering. This is also accomplished by giving the employee a new challenge or even a promotion. It’s almost like you’re adding another coat of paint to those lines to really solidify their direction in the company.

Great employees will perform well if they know what is expected of them, and that comes from management. To be a great manager you must make sure every employee knows exactly why they have a position and what they must do to be successful. These are the parking lines of the work place. Make sure they are there, make sure they are clear, and make sure they are changed if the business changes.

Great managers and great leaders know that one of their important jobs is to help paint the lines for employees.

 

We at Personnel Profiles of Columbus are committed to helping organizations understand the value of front line management and how to develop their strengths to better the organization and their people. Give us a call so we can explore the possibilities for your business.

 

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly updates and business insights.

 

Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.

Execution Part II

Front Line Management: The Key to Execution

So much attention is focused on bringing in the right individual people for the job, but not enough is placed on making sure that the right front-line managers are keeping those employees accountable once they’ve been brought on. Last week we talked about what to ask yourself when recruiting and hiring an ideal front-line manager, this week it’s all about what to consider to make them the best once they’re a part of your company.

 

Developing

  • Is your culture defined by its commitment to growing talent?
  • Do you invest time in on-boarding and training each new hire? Including the technical skills and the performance skills. (The key behaviors linked to successful job performance)
  • Does your training and development plan link key behaviors to successful on-job performance? And how is that training delivered?
  • Does your leadership spend time working with and training your front-line management while on the job?

 

Retention 

  • Does leadership invest in building a positive relationship with front-line management? Remember, relationships determine results.
  • Is leadership in your company viewed more as an evaluator/grader or more as a coach and mentor?
  • Have you identified your top performers, and what is your strategy to recognize and keep them?

We are confident that if leadership would commit its time, energy, resources, and wisdom to answering these questions on behalf of its front-line management, then your business strategy would be properly executed.  And we can guarantee that performance in productivity, service, quality, cost reduction, and sustained profitability would also be achieved

 

But these questions may be tough for you to fully flesh out on your own, luckily we’re experts and we’re here to help. So let’s explore the answers to these and other questions together. We can help you deliver the real results your business demands.

 

Fred Crum has more than 40 years of experience in the operations management and Human Resources fields, with 25 years at a Fortune 100 company. Connect with Fred on LinkedIn and follow PPI Columbus on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight.

EXECUTION

FRONT LINE MANAGEMENT: THE KEY TO EXECUTION

One of the core principles of who we are at PPI Columbus (Personnel Profiles of Columbus) revolves around the concept that “Marketplace success is driven by how well you invest in your Human Capital.

Your competition can replicate your processes, your products and services; they can even acquire similar equipment or technology, and can acquire new business. But when it’s all said and done, the true competitive advantage (a highly engaged workforce) is gained when you invest wisely in your people. It has long been proven through Gallup’s research that improvements in productivity, service, quality, cost reduction and profitability are linked to the engagement of your people. Employee engagement and Execution are directly linked… And, “The key to improved employee engagement, and ultimately excellent EXECUTION, is rooted in the talent and quality of your front line management”

A few weeks ago we talked about accountability as a blueprint for improved employee engagement. But how can we expect our employees to be accountable to their front line managers if we don’t bring in the right people? If you want to be able to hold your employees accountable, then it makes sense to have the right person in that front line management role, right?

Without any doubt, we are of the opinion that the best Human Capital investment you can make is in recruiting, hiring, developing and retaining top talent at your front line. Whether you’re a leader in a Fortune 500 company or a small to mid-size business, it’s imperative that you have a plan.

In this week’s article we’re going to be focusing on recruiting and hiring (be sure come back next week when we look at the development and retention of your front line managers). What follows are simple questions to help you evaluate how your company invests in your front line management:

 

Recruiting your Front Line Manager (Internally & Externally)

  1. Have you invested the time in developing a recruiting plan and then executing that plan? Who owns the responsibility to recruit talent on an ongoing basis? But more importantly, do you know where to find top talent?
  2. What is your “Employer Brand”—why does top talent want to work for you? What makes your company desirable and how are you actively marketing its value?
  3. Have you identified the top talent currently working at your company – and what’s your plan to prepare them for more responsibility?

 

Hiring your Front Line Manager

  1. Have you clearly defined the front line manager’s position in the job description? Do all those involved in the selection and training of your new hire understand it?
  2. Have you consulted with appropriate stakeholders in the hiring decision to define the key behaviors that drive performance? Are these behaviors incorporated into your interviewing process?
  3. Do you assess top candidates to determine if they match the requirements of the job and your culture?

Carefully consider the responses to these questions. Taking the time to work through these questions can help you recruit and hire the right front line manager(s) consistently. Better yet, let’s explore the answers to these questions together, and help deliver the results your business delivers.

Join us next week as we explore the development and retention of front line managers; follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly updates and business insights.

 

Fred Crum has more than 40 years of experience in the operations management and Human Resources fields, with 25 years at a Fortune 100 company. Connect with Fred on LinkedIn and follow PPI Columbus on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight.

2 More Leadership Lessons Learned From My Grandmother

In last week’s article I shared two important lessons on leadership from my grandmother about procrastination and communication. If you missed the article, you can read it here, or visit our blog for this and other useful leadership tips. So let’s continue with a couple more nuggets of information from my grandmother…

“Tell Mr. Martin that you only want 5 chunks of cheese.”

Leadership Lesson #3: Avoid costly waste by running a lean business.

Mr. Martin was the owner of a small grocery store in the community.  He was also a farmer, so the store was only open at certain times of the day, or if you knocked on his door for emergency needs. My grandparents never needed to buy much because they provided most of their needs from their own efforts. However, when they did need something my Grandmother would send me to the store (about ½ mile away) with very specific instructions on how many slices, chunks or scoops of goods to buy. Grandmother used to say “waste not want not.” They did not have any of our modern conveniences so there was no excessive up front buying. She called it being thrifty, but in reality they were practicing the concepts of Lean Thinking.

They only bought exactly what they needed. There was no waste. They had no massive inventory of goods. Everything on their farm had a place, and that is exactly where you would find it if needed.

As a leader you must be teaching your teams about being lean. Share with others the cost of wasted inventory, wasted movement or damaged material that is being stored. Everyone must understand that these costs can’t be passed off to the customer anymore. Congratulate groups that practice lean processes and share success stories with the rest of the organization. Introduce the 5-S process (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain – more on this topic at a later date) in the office and the plant floor. Require planning and debriefing processes.  Discuss with the team the concept of value added activity. If you do, everyone will get better. It is your job, as a leader to do this. Everyone in the organization has a fiduciary responsibility to the company – everyone.

 

“It’s time for a picnic.”

Leadership Lesson #4: Develop a culture of community and celebrate the wins.

On the last Saturday evening before I would go home there was always a picnic. It was a big celebration for my family, relatives, my neighbors and me.  As I think back on it, food was always a big part of the life on the farm. The celebrations were always special, lots of jokes, stories, games and just good times. My grandparents knew the value of celebrations and the camaraderie that happened each time they built a bonfire. They did not call it team building, it was just a picnic or a wiener roast, but they were developing a sense of belonging in the family and the community.

As a Leader how do you build the sense of belonging in the organization? Abraham Maslow identified a sense of belonging to be one of the 5 levels of motivation that he stressed as being important in the hierarchy of motivation. If employees feel like they belong, they will feel engaged.

At every picnic as the fire died down and everyone was gathered around (young and old) there was always a history story about the community or some family member that had done something special. It was one of the ways that family and community values were passed down from one generation to another. As a leader you can share important stories about company heroes and those that have made it possible for everyone to have a job. Ask others to share their stories about the company, its heroes and heroines. Your company values are important to your employees and eventually to your customers. Your values are important pieces of the company culture.

As many authors have stated, Leadership is an Art, not a science. Create your own art by taking important pieces of people’s lives and use them to build a place where people want to work. Leadership is not easy, but it can be one of the most rewarding accomplishments in your life.

I hope these lessons learned from my Grandparents will help you be successful. These lessons take Leadership from being a noun, to Leadership being a verb. Get out and lead, it takes action.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly updates and business insights.

Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.

2 Leadership Lessons Learned From My Grandmother

Having grown up in the mid to late ‘40s I was fortunate to have a very close relationship with my maternal grandparents. Back in those days things were very different than they are today and the relationship I had with my grandparents was a thing of joy. We lived in different communities, there were no cell phones or the Internet and travel was somewhat restricted. My grandparents were farmers and wildcat oil well drillers. They worked extremely hard for what they had, but never once did I hear them complain about anything. Every summer from the age of 8, I would visit the farm for two weeks and it was the most enjoyable time of the summer. During those visits I helped my grandparents do the chores and in doing so, I was able to observe how they did things. At the time I did not realize that I was being coached. They didn’t sit me down, drill me, or make me take notes. They just allowed me to observe them, their behaviors and attitudes. This helped develop my values.

Grandma would always tell me:

“Don’t put off till tomorrow the weeding of the garden. It might rain tomorrow and then we can’t get our work done.” 

Leadership Lesson #1: Don’t procrastinate. Tomorrow will always come and it will be filled with lots of challenges, but we must take care of today.

How many times do we put off that important sales call, or the necessary discussion with an employee about safety or quality? Many times when we put things off till tomorrow (if we’re lucky), the sale is lost to a competitor, or an injury occurs because of a careless act. It is very important for our employees to have a sense of urgency. As their leader you must demonstrate a sense of urgency. Your employees will see this and know it is important. Clearly state and demonstrate the importance of taking care of today.

“Talk with the rural route mailman every day.”

Leadership Lesson #2: Good communication is a tool for learning, connecting, and improving employee engagement.

My grandmother would always wait for the mailman to stop by the mailbox. It happened every day around 12:30pm. It was the time when Grandmother would be able to catch up on all the news from the area. The mailman talked to all the people on his rural route. He knew who was under the weather, who was going to get married, or whose son was shipping out to Germany. If someone down the road needed something, my grandparents could take a pie or lend a hand. Communication with others was their lifeblood. It was instant news, or at least within a couple of hours (not bad considering the lack of cellphone and/or Internet). That brief 2-3 minutes helped my grandparents feel like they were connected to all the others in the area.

One of the important keys of getting employees engaged is to help them feel like they are “in the know”. Let everyone know about the important history stories of the company. Let employees know about the new customer that is coming on board, or the new technology that is being considered. The more information people have, the better their decision-making capabilities. Great leaders must be excellent communicators.

These simple lessons have stood the test of time. After all, I use them everyday. Even in today’s information-rich world, it’s still important to adhere to these basic principles. Failing to follow through on your commitments will cause you to miss important goals. This ultimately makes or breaks the future of your organization. Let’s not forget all the men and women you count on day after day – your employees. Keeping them in the dark stops them from doing their jobs, but more importantly, this leads to disengaged workforce.

Now get out there and lead by example. Looking to learn a little more from my wise grandmother? Join me next time as I share two more leadership tips on operations and improving company culture.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for weekly updates and business insights.

Roger has spent his entire 49-year career working with and growing people on all levels. His experiences have made him an expert in the Operations Management and Human Resources fields. Connect with Roger on LinkedIn and follow PPI on Twitter for weekly news, trends, and insider insight. For this and other great articles visit the PPI Columbus Blog.

Accountability: The blueprint to improved employee engagement

Accountability in past management practices was more aligned with the old “Command and Control” methodology, which could be severe and demoralizing. We’ve probably all had managers essentially try to create an organizational dictatorship with this style, including one former boss of mine whose interpretation of accountability was an unfeeling, “You are the anvil and I am the hammer.”

 

Pretty inspirational, right?

 

Can you imagine how that played out to those who worked for him, even back then?

 

In today’s work environment however, this style of creating accountability isn’t sustainable. If those practices do manage to produce results, they are usually very short-term at best. More importantly though, they would eventually in result in lower trust, lower productivity, increased cost, poor customer service, and high employee turnover, to name just a few of the elements that drive a company’s value.

 

Research conducted by the Gallup organization has long made it clear that a highly engaged workforce needs talented managers, especially made clear by this finding, first emphasized in First Break All The Rules, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman”How long the employee stays, and how productive they are while there, is determined by their relationship with their immediate supervisor”

 

They discovered that the core of a strong and vibrant workplace could be measured in the answers to the following six questions, to which our five steps of accountability perfectly correspond.

 

Can you answer these questions fully? Positively? How strong is your leadership competency when it comes to creating accountability?  (See attached Chart)

 

To that end, let’s break down the five steps to figure out how you can deliver and implement accountability in your organization with leadership competency. As we explore these steps, take a look at how closely the concept of accountability meshes with the six questions that Gallup proposes to be the measure of a strong and vibrant workplace.

 

STEP # 1: The individual being held accountable must know precisely what job he/she is charged with performing.

Leadership has to make sure that the current job description reflects the technical skills and the performance skills (values and behaviors) required for success on the job. Too often in our practice, we do not see the key values and behaviors clearly defined, which is only to the detriment of your organization.

 

Matching the right behaviors and values will most definitely align with successful performance on the job. Once these are spelled out, the manager must be able to communicate clearly what they are to the employee and how they are to be demonstrated.

 

STEP # 2: The individual assigned a responsibility must have the capacity to do the job.

This step has a two-fold approach to success. First, ask yourself if the employee actually has the materials and equipment they need to do their work right. Then assess if there is someone in the organization who is able and willing to broaden the employee’s capacity through development.  If these questions don’t solicit an automatic “yes”, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

 

Through regularly planned on-job observations and employee demonstrations, leadership must be able to assess the person’s technical and performance skills and evaluate what training and development is necessary to shore up any skills gaps.

 

STEP # 3: The individual assigned a job must understand and agree with the manager’s standards for an acceptable piece of work.

In this step, it is critical that the manager communicate his/her standards of acceptable performance and also give proper recognition when the employee’s work meets and exceeds those expectations.

 

In clearly explaining what those standards are, the manager should take the opportunity to explain his/her commitment to the employee’s success by accentuating their strengths and working with them to support an area of developmental opportunity.

 

By keeping the standards clear you’ll not only build a positive work environment, but also develop a much more accountable workforce.

 

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