January 7, 2016
There are 4 ways employees win with accountability. I am one of the “doers” in my company. I report directly to our CEO. Tracking my activities is a key part of my job. Our culture expects work to be done and done well. We know how projects are progressing. Further, we analyze how use our time. I am held accountable to my results. Few could argue that it is my activity that yields the results I achieve so, we track my activity and compare it to my results. Many Managers would cringe at imposing these requirements on their employees. They fear employees won’t like it, and they think it will mean more paperwork for them to review and monitor when they already have enough to do. I even admit, when first working at my company, I was a little negative about it myself. However, what surprised me over time, is that I prefer it. Because I do my job, I find I only gain from it. It was an eye opener that has made me more productive in many areas. There are four areas where I found I had benefited.
Expectations were clearly defined so I never had to second guess what I was to be focusing on. Part of accountability in our company is informing our boss why goals are not to be met, and to offer suggestions for change so we can reach our goals. By tracking activity I was not only able to track/chart my progress, but I learned to foresee issues so I could inform my boss of potential failure so it could be corrected before I actually failed. Together, we work through those issues before they become problems for both of us.
There is a saying in business that claims if you measure it, it will improve. The issues many companies have is that they monitor things when they are failing but drop that process when things improve so they can tackle other deficiencies. They stay “better” for a while, but things that caused the failure to begin to return. A finely tuned accountability process will determine the things that lead to successes and track those activities as a constant activity. When constantly monitored the desired results become a constant. Therefore, my activity tracking leads me to my goals. So often, companies monitor results without tracking the activities that led them there. By this time, failure demands fire-fighting, which puts stress on everyone. With constant watch, there are no fires, only embers to be doused when they begin to glow. Achieving goals becomes the norm instead of a challenge each quarter. If the activity is not getting you to your goals, then you most likely must look at changing the activity before you can hope for a change in result.
If anything is a constant it is change. Activities that worked in the past, may not work in current times. Hence, I track my activities. As a result, I am able to prove I am doing what was asked. Even better, I can also show where past activities are not be working now. Tracking provides comparison data. Knowing the before and after results when conducting the same activity tells the story. Obviously, it highlights a need for change. Regardless of the reasons, the comparison shows differences. Significantly, having data helps. It ensures analytical justification, rather than excuse making or blame. My boss likes this approach. A complaint with evidence seems like an offer to help. It is not viewed as a complaint, but rather an opportunity. Fact-based discussions are productive not personal.
We all wear different hats these days. It becomes difficult to juggle it all to be able establish priorities. When measuring my progress, I can clearly see where I am falling deficient, and can adjust my activities so I don’t end up failing in any one area by the end of the month. Prior to this tracking, I just worked my hardest and hoped for the best by the end of the month without any real sense of direction other than the habitual activities of my job. It was great for the normal times, but I learned that things can go amuck when times were changing. By tracking activity and result, it is much quicker to know where you need to change in order to adapt. Also, over time, task measurement enabled me to visualize patterns where I now know what activities need to happen when to keep me productive in all areas. I have no doubt that my time management skills have vastly increased.
Accountability always seems to hold a negative connotation. Your teachers were going to “hold you accountable” to doing your homework. The IRS wants to know if the forms you provide each year are “accountable”. The life lesson, that is often over looked when the word comes up, is that when I did my homework and documented my finances, everything was alright. These things made me a good student and a good citizen. So, why wouldn’t it make me a better employee and keep me out of trouble? Do your staff a favor and initiate a little accountability. Remember, the 4 ways employees win with accountability also help you as their manager. You will be doing them and yourself a great service. It is definitely a win/win for everyone.