Accountability is Not a Four Letter Word

I went into business for myself in part because I continually found myself frustrated while working for someone else.

Meetings felt like a waste of time, most of my bosses continually asked me to do things then never acknowledged my accomplishments, quickly moving on to the next project.

Frequently I found myself focused on something only to discover my manager had abandoned it and forgot to tell me they were going in a different direction.

And then there’s that, the changing directions, which left me feeling uninformed, behind and frustrated.

Going into business for myself seemed like freedom from meetings, confusion and having to answer to someone else. You know the answer to the question “Why’d you decide to start your own business?”

“So I could work less, make moreDuh money and not have a boss.” Yeah, well, most of you know how that goes. The lessons having your own business delivers are seemingly endless, frequently surprising and followed by more face-palm moments than I care to admit.

One of my earliest connect the dots moments was the discovery that other people actually want to be told what to do. Not only did they just want me to tell them what I wanted they actually appreciated being held accountable.

Huh.

accountability

This realization, that accountability makes people feel that what their doing matters was to say the least, surprising. Who knew that telling people what you want them to do, being clear about your vision and your expectations was mostly meaningless without following it all with accountability.

Turns out holding people accountable to what you’ve asked them to do let’s them know you meant it, you didn’t change your mind a week later, gives them the satisfaction of completion and a sense of accomplishment. It builds their trust in you and each other.

Turns out accountability is a big part of getting things done. Not only that but providing accountability helps your team to have clarity around what they’re doing and when you want it done by. It gives them the opportunity to ask for clarification, confirmation and to share their accomplishments with you.

Now imagine my surprise and frustration when I became an advisor to business owners and discovered how little accountability they were using in their companies. More connect the dots moments for me when I realized this lack of accountability was a large part of why so many businesses are struggling to get things done and accomplish their visions.

It seems that many business owners having disliked being held accountable themselves have assumed that accountability itself was the issue and not who or how it was being employed. The experiences they’ve had with accountability makes it difficult for them to learn the lesson of it’s importance. It causes them to resist it sometimes at all costs (their business goals) and leaves them and their teams struggling and frustrated.

Instilling some healthy accountability into my clients businesses has proven to be one of my biggest challenges as an advisor when trying to help them turn their visions into reality.

Accountability is not a four letter word.

Huh.

 

Continue reading Accountability is Not a Four Letter Word

Advertisements

Communicating with your team

If you were to ask the key people on your team if they knew what you saw as the top priority for your organization this quarter what would they say?

If you asked them to rank the items on their to do lists would their number one priority match what you see as their number one priority?

And if you asked them if they felt like they received clear guidance and direction from you so that they could do their jobs well, what would they say?

I have been surprised lately at how many leaders are under communicating with the very people they need to help them achieve the goals for their company. Reaching your financial goals requires the work and efforts of the entire team, but frequently leaders don’t communicate with their team as well as they think they are.

As an entrepreneur you probably created your own business in part because you wanted to escape the rules, structure and accountability. Owning your own company gives you the freedom to do what you want when you want and how you want, the trouble is that running your company that way won’t always get you what you really want, a successful business. No matter how great your vision is it won’t become a reality unless your team members are all pulling in the same direction with the same end goals in mind.

The only way for the team to know what your goal is, is for you to tell them, regularly and repeatedly. And if they are focused on the wrong things or have different priorities than you do, well then it will take you longer to reach your goals. Picture a relay race where your team starts with one runner carrying the baton and that runner decides to keep the baton himself and run all the way with it or he does hand it off but the next runner heads off in the wrong direction taking the team off course. They may eventually finish the race but they won’t win it and it won’t be very impressive.

Entrepreneurs often take their ideas and run with them forgetting to hand off to others who can help get them to their goals, or they do hand them off but they forget to tell the next person on the team what direction the finish line is.

So if you find yourself feeling like a runner in a relay race run by cats chances are your team isn’t receiving clear directions from you or you are forgetting to pass the baton. Having consistent meetings with your team members and making sure they understand what you want them working on is a key part of winning your race. Never underestimate the importance of communication in reaching your goals.

Productive meetings should include:

Clear directions and expectations from you.
An opportunity to get questions answered and to ask for help.
Follow up on expectations that includes recognition as well as redirection.
A team that arrives prepared for the meeting, including the leader.

Set the tone for your communication meetings by holding them consistently and coming prepared yourself. Let your team know that you expect them to come prepared as well. Give your full attention to them during the meeting and they will be more likely to ask for guidance and share their ideas.
Never hold “fly by” meetings and always reschedule the meeting if it gets delayed for some reason.

If you treat communication seriously so will your team and with you all racing in the same direction you are going to cross the finish line a lot faster.

And that is a win for everyone.