A Better Baseline for Performance
Creating A Culture of Accountability
In order to build a better baseline for performance and improve accountability in the workplace, we need to look at the context of your management conversations as they relate to holding people accountable. As I said previously in Part 1 of this blog, the building block of personal accountability is knowing how to answer both of the following questions for every person you manage:
- What am I supposed to do?
- How well am I doing it?
Only then can you confidently or competently (hopefully both) deliver the results your company is looking for.
It’s the manager’s job to provide this clarity around performance expectations. While we all know this to be true, I’ve found that managerial capabilities at setting clear expectations are all over the map from outstandingly anal to loosey-goosey telekinetic transfer type to just plain hopeful. Of course, depending upon the business, some companies have a great deal of rigor around expectations while others don’t. And in cases where rigor may be present, consistency and communication may be lax or missing entirely.
So, let’s baseline it. Performance expectations begin with the job role. When was the last time you sat down and reviewed the actual job role/job description against the actual work that needs to be done? At Management Possible®, we want managers everywhere to understand that accountability starts with a clear understanding of roles. So, to start your journey toward better accountability, you need to start by making the job description as accurate as possible.
A good job description contains:
To better describe the job, start by answering what the overarching responsibilities of the role are. These generally tend to be broader categories of work that drive the specific tasks for the role, but may also speak to the expected interactions within the team, unit, or company, i.e. “Manage, track, and report on all project execution.”
Types of Work
This is an outline of the specific executables the job role is designed to deliver, i.e. “Create Project Plans.”
Key Performance Indicators or Key Result Areas (KPIs and KRAs)
These are your performance metrics — how you measure successful execution. This is typically where all the focus is when managers conduct a performance review. An example of a KPI is “Percentage of Projects Complete” or “Percentage of face time with clients.”
This can often be overlooked or missed when describing a job’s role. Core values are generally the company core values, but can also contain specific values for the department, unit, or role. Values drive behavior. So, including these allows you to have a better understanding of the expected behaviors. However, they must be illuminated to include more than single word values like “integrity.” You must also include the context i.e. “Here’s how we see these expressed….” Do so in a way that indicates “including but not limited to” so the understanding is that there are additional ways to enact these values.
A visual representation of where the job fits in the organization, or a clear reporting structure can help people better understand where they fit into the company and who is holding them accountable. The role should be clear about what other roles/jobs it impacts as well as upline and downline accountability.
Decision Making Authority
This is the portion of most job descriptions that is missing entirely. Decision making authority is the seat of empowerment. When someone has a clear understanding of what decisions a job has, it allows that person to add significant value because he/she is clear on what is his/hers to own. The individual knows where he/she needs input, where he/she needs approval, and where he/she doesn’t.
If a person does not know if they have the authority to make a decision, sometimes they ask, sometimes they wait, sometimes they assume others will tell them — either way, this thwarts accountability and a lot of times this is the underlying reason people don’t take responsibility as there is confusion about who has the decision making authority. In addition, if two people think they have authority this can create conflict and it too thwarts accountability.
Decision making authority also links directly to employee engagement and motivation. When an employee is clear on what decisions they are held accountable for, they experience the necessary autonomy they need to initiate where they are expected.
If your organization has dipped a toe in the notion of “engagement” and taken the time to learn about Strengthsfinders, the notion that people perform their best when doing work that plays to their strengths, you can start to analyze the work demanded from a specific role in terms of the strengths that are best suited for that role and would be most successful. This extra step can work to ensure you’ve got the “right people in the right seat” on your proverbial bus.
Now Start the Conversation
So, now you have the seven critical aspects of a complete and useful working job description that what help you build a foundation for accountability – an example provided by the Growth Curve Institute, experts in helping you build sustainability for your growing business. This sets the baseline for performance expectation. Now you must master the conversation itself. Managers need to be able to identify performance issues and frame them up at the beginning of a conversation designed to hold a direct report accountable while simultaneously building respect and creating openness in order to begin accountability building and maintenance, in real time, every day.
At Management Possible, we can help you make accountability a part of your business and help you better create a foundation that allows for this accountability. Our OwnUp!™ Manager Toolkit program can help you change the culture of your business and learn more about building accountability. If this is a skill set you desire to have. Get in touch. We can help you put accountability back on the job.
The MashUP Resources
Dov Seidman argues that the last era of management was about how much performance we could extract from people and that the next is all about how much humanity we can inspire.
Based on a 40-year study of human strengths, Gallup created a language of the 34 most common talents and developed the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment to help people discover and describe these talents. In 2001, the initial version of this assessment was included with the bestselling management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The discussion quickly moved beyond the management audience of this book. The goal was to start a global conversation about what’s right with people. It appears that the world was ready to have this conversation.