I recently spoke to a great group of organizational leaders at the Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Execution Conference (BEC) in Charlotte, NC. The session was How to Build Team Accountability. Since that session, I’ve received several requests for blogs that dive into certain aspects of helping to hold people accountable, especially by using a tool such as a Job Scorecard. Since I love writing, I loved getting these requests!
There’s no “easy button” for cultivating accountability in your company. However, with a model in mind and a few tools, you can begin the journey sooner vs. later.
A Living Example…
An example might be Sally Smith, who is your manufacturing company’s COO. Sally’s great at what she does; you couldn’t have hired anyone more competent. Here might be the situation:
Sally is a competent and wonderful COO. She has won numerous awards in the field of manufacturing for her excellence and she’s frequently asked to speak at industry-wide conferences. She’s a master of efficiency, and she uses her analytical skills with ease and laser-like focus. You also like talking with her because she doesn’t mess around with words; instead, she gets right to the point. In your mind, she excels at being a COO; she’s “in her element.”
Yet, you’ve begun to notice that other members of the Executive Team have trouble understanding what she’s doing, and by when. In addition, there’s a bit of rumbling about her being so efficient that she simply barges forward when a request is made for her to deliver something specific without really involving her peers or others in the organization. You also recognize her blunt approach— which on the one hand is good, but on the other hand it seems to be too blunt at times. You’re beginning to wonder if this (or any combination of the above) is why there is frequent regrettable turnover on Sally’s team. You decide that a conversation with Sally might be worthy of your time.
Tool: Job Scorecard
One of the tools shared during the BEC session was the Job Scorecard. If you’re going to have a conversation with people around accountability (or the lack thereof), it’s important to first frame what it is (exactly) that you need them to do. The Job Scorecard is a perfect way to prompt your own thinking and to help you get very focused on specifics.
For Sally, you can talk in generalities (i.e., “It just seems like your turnover is high and… by the way, some of your peers don’t seem to like the way you dive into a project without conversing with them or pulling in their expertise when needed, etc.”) While this targets your observations, it does little to build team accountability.
If it is accountability you desire, then be specific. To do this, access the Job Scorecard Tool and follow this simple model as you take the think-time necessary to get your arms around what, exactly, you need Sally to do differently.
Step 1: What are the top 3-5 Desired Results for the COO position?
Note: This isn’t with “Sally” in mind; it’s with the position itself. It doesn’t matter who occupies this seat. You can get an idea of what you might include here by looking at the general job description for the COO position. From there, consider the current landscape of where the company is and then consider strategically where the company is going. With those elements in mind, what are the top 3-5 Desired Results for the COO position?
For Sally, here's what might bubble to the top in this section:
- Improve the contribution margin of the business
- Reduce # of defects
- Improve our on-time delivery
Step 2: What are the top 3-5 Skills, Traits, and Competencies needed in this position?
Note: Relative to where the company wants to go, narrow down what’s really needed right now relative to skills, traits, and competencies. This will include both “skills-based” elements as well as “behavior-based” elements.
For Sally, you decide on the following:
- Team Leadership
- Team Retention
- Analytical Skills
- Manufacturing Expertise
Step 3: What are the Key Responsibilities Sally should focus on in order to help the company get where it wants to go?
Specifically, what does Sally need to do in order to make the highest level of contribution to the company relative to where the company wants to go?
For Sally, you decide on the following:
- Manage all day-to-day operations (especially related to production)
- Improve processes & procedures for the engineering, manufacturing, and quality groups
- Develop the manufacturing team of the future
- Lower operational costs of doing business
Step 4: To what degree is Sally living your company’s Core Values?
This one is difficult to do if you don’t have a culture that works very hard to live its stated Core Values. Most companies I work with have a set of Values, but to what degree they’re alive and well in the organization is sometimes left up to question. You’ll never build team accountability if you only discuss this with Sally and never with anyone else. I will say, however, that this is a crucial step. If your company doesn’t fully engage around a set of established Core Values, then you limit your ability to build a culture where accountability can thrive.
For Sally, you decide that the company definitely works very hard to fully engage everyone around its Core Values. Therefore, you list the company’s Values:
- Continuous Learning
Step 5: Your Rankings—
- For Desired Results (Step 1 above): What is your Red-Yellow-Green and SuperGreen criteria?
- For Skills, Traits, and Competencies (Step 2 above): On a scale of 1-10 (see the definitions on page 1 of the Job Scorecard), what ranking would you give Sally, and what is a brief overview of your rationale?
- For Key Responsibilities (Step 3 above): What ranking would you give Sally, and what is your rationale?
- For Core Values (Step 4): How would you rank Sally on each Core Value, and what is your rationale?
You may want to ask Sally to provide her own Job Scorecard rankings prior to your meeting. Doing this allows each of you to see where there’s alignment or misalignment in understanding, and where further definition of success criteria is needed.
Step 6: Create a dialogue by having a meaningful conversation together.
At the close of your conversation, ask clarifying questions such as, “What did we decide today?” “When might we get together again?” “How can I be a resource for you?” “What support can I provide?” etc.
Building a team accountability is hard work, but it’s a leader’s job to have tough conversations that will steer people toward higher levels of success. Without accountability, everyone loses…as does your company.
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