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How to Have Accountability at Your Company

Accountability is tough when your employees are constantly out on a project. How do you make sure your team members are doing their jobs and doing them well?

Here are some tips to help hold employees accountable at your company:

Use Comprehensive Hiring Practices

The process of holding employees accountable begins with hiring. “It’s important that somebody actually wants to work for your company,” says Justin Green, a business coach with The Impel Group, a business coaching firm in Chicago. “If potential employees don’t share your company’s vision and don’t care about what they are doing, it could be a potential disaster.” Before you hire, Green says, decide what your company culture is so that you can better communicate ground rules for what is acceptable and what isn’t tolerable.

Alex Raymond, the founder of Kapta, a performance management company that caters to small businesses in Boulder, Colo., advises setting clear standards early. Checking references is an important and foolproof tactic as well.

Revamp Your People Skills

Some small business owners lack people skills, which can hurt their relationship with their employees, says Rick Cherf, assistant professor in construction management at Washington State University and principal of Total Construction Services, Inc., a construction consulting firm in Pullman, Wash. “Using an ‘It’s my way or the highway’ attitude doesn’t work anymore,” Cherf says. To reach employees on an emotional level, “be credible and congruent, and they will respond to your connection,” Cherf says. “Loyalty and trust are earned, not required.”

Cherf says recommends developing relationships with your employees. It will help you develop social skills, be committed to your work and follow through with promises, Cherf says.

“Ten years ago if we talked about feelings and people’s emotions, you would have been laughed out of the room,” Cherf says. “This is a new time.”

Gaining an employee’s trust also requires being “real and upfront with them,” Cherf says. If there is a problem, it’s important to discuss it directly with that person. “Confrontation requires guts,” Raymond says, but instead of assuming that changing your approach or ‘dealing with it later’ will make the problem disappear, discuss the issue. “If someone is behaving in a certain way, it’s not going to change if you don’t talk to them,” Raymond says. 

Create A Plan

It’s important to create a plan for your company that can be relayed to your employees so they understand your mission and vision. Once you have a plan, create a chart on a digital device, dry-erase board or notepad based on where you see your company in five years. Then plug current employees into the roles that fit their skills, including contractors, subcontractors and supervisors to those in the administration. “This way, they will know all of their responsibilities, and, as you grow, you can divide up specific tasks,” Green says.

Develop Goals, Set Clear Expectations

Once you have communicated a plan with your team, set goals and clear expectations. “Ensuring that everyone is working toward the same company and individual goals is paramount,” Green says. Develop quantifiable goals that are specific, measurable and time sensitive for each person so they know what they are responsible for.

Cherf also suggests having employees submit weekly action lists and hosting weekly or bi-weekly project review meetings where you and your team can resolve issues, seize opportunities and check the status on everyone’s responsibilities.

Let the Performance Review Do the Hard Work for You

Reviews can be informal, but make sure to “set them up quarterly, and don’t forget to do them,” Green says. Schedule five- to 10-minute meetings with an employee to discuss what you’ve noticed about their work style. Also make sure reviews drive back to the specific job description, Raymond says.

Based on the job requirements, the manager and employee should rate the performance for each requirement on a scale of 1 to 10 prior to the meeting. Then, at the meeting, discuss what is going well, areas that can be improved, and gaps in expectations, Raymond says. This allows both parties to leave the meeting knowing what they are accountable for during the next quarter and what they can improve upon.

Schedule Meetings Regularly

“Meetings can be a hassle,” Cherf says, but with the right format, you can help identify issues and action items. He suggests always having attendees sign in to meetings. That way, you have documentation on who contributed what to each meeting.

“Say a toxic materials accident occurred in the field with an employee,” Cherf says. “By discussing the hazards and activities associated with that type of work, you are providing knowledge, value and documentation that your employee has been trained for that aspect of their job. Analyzing hazards is the key to a safe work place.” In the follow-up discussion, you can discuss ways to prevent the accident from happening again.

By implementing these best practices, your organization can significantly improve its business performance, Raymond says.

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