October 26, 2016
Results of c-store management accountability are sales, profits and time. Specific goals and clear expectations make work easy. Taking time to discuss work that is not good is needed. This approach applies to most situations. For example, work, athletics, academics, relationships; you name it. Nonetheless, many think firm oversight is scary or too tough. In fact, many otherwise strong leaders dread it. Directly talking about work that is not in line with company rules has a bad name.
Pain and Fear
This bad name for accountability is not correct. The pain or unpleasantness is a result of bad execution’s, unclear expectations or poor management. Of course, their can be temporary pain even if done well. The correct approach to accountability however, starts with clarity. Once everyone shares the same rules, then the discussion is about the use of the rules. It is not personal or demeaning. Instead, a review is a a ‘teaching’ or ‘coaching’ moment. In summary, the problem, is not the feedback. Most understand we are not perfect and need a little help.
The solution is to make sure there is very clear expectations for the job to be done. There should known assignments with a timeline. Discussing what is needed to comply is just like training. It has to be safe to get help. Let’s face it, who wants to report that they are failing and seek help?
The surprising part of accountability is that because we focus on this only fearful aspect of the process, we miss all the positive aspects. Things like hitting a goal, closing a tasks, gaining trust, getting great results, finishing early,… etc. are all part of accountability as well. We enjoy them and we experience them often yet, we forget they are part of the overall accountability process.
Maybe it’s our ego that thinks that we would always perform well regardless of standards, deadlines, process and clarity. Regardless of the reason, it is important for leaders, managers and, anyone else that wants to achieve, to understand that those great things can only happen when accountability is in place. You either need to hire those employees with a tendency to hold themselves accountable or put process or systems that will enforce it. Either way, to enjoy the benefits of accountability it has to be used. If the tasks and goals are realistic then the entire process will be enjoyed by all, including those being held accountable.
Definition of Done
Esko Hannula, makes a simple point in his article – What I learnt by tracking my time. Esko writes in his Lesson 3: [I need the feeling of accomplishment. I believe most human beings need regularly the feeling of accomplishing something. I realized I can create those feelings for myself by planning my work so that each chunk of work I plan to do has a proper “definition of done”, no matter how small. In reality I may not have accomplished anything more but still the feeling of achieving my “definition of done” energizes much more than the feeling of “having progressed a b]it”.] Great accounting systems will have clear objectives that have deadlines and measurable results. These results are planned so that hitting them leads to the achievement of a larger vision that is comprised of the process, team and systems that have measurable steps along the way.
Most respond well to positive feedback. Perhaps a simple method to put great accountability into effect is just the regular notice, praise or recognition for a job well done. A great boss will probably do this all the time. All of us can be the boss of our actions and break our work into daily (or even hourly) objectives that provide the stress of completion but also the satisfaction of getting it done. An important thing to observe is that if you are modeling your C-Store after one of the greats in the industry, it is likely that you would find with little investigation that methods of accountability are in place. Results of c-store management accountability may be more expected with more practice.