Whenever we expect something from someone—be it our employees, our spouse, or even ourselves—we earnestly want that person to take responsibility, to follow through, to be accountable. But we often shoot ourselves in the foot by making expectations that aren’t specific, measurable, and repeatable. Big, lofty, and high-level are good qualities for goals, but they’re also good for nothing until they’re connected to simple steps that can be taken and tracked again and again.
We all know accountability in business is critical, yet many companies large and small struggle finding and implementing accountability processes that both the employer and the employee are happy to embrace and sustain. That’s because most approaches to accountability are too broad and one-sided—they serve the person making the request but not the person tasked with fulfilling the request. Consider the most common culprit behind the lack of accountability in business: the job description. We’ve all had them, read them, and some us are even guilty of writing them. They reek of broad, vague phrases like “provide excellent customer service” and “achieve operational objectives”—yes, this is what we as employers want our employees to do conceptually, but what do we want them to do practically? The next time you want others—or yourself—to be accountable, ditch the high-level blah blah and implement these three accountability principles.
Accountability is easier with specific, actionable requests. From job descriptions to day-to-day interactions, we often make abstract requests of our employees yet wonder why our employees don’t give us the results we want. Here’s a hint: they’re not sure what we actually want them to do! Just as badly as we want results and accountability from our employees, they earnestly need clear direction and specific assignments from us. When a job is broken down into specific tasks, it creates an inherent sense of accountability as the person responsible for the job can actually grasp what we want them to do.
Accountability is a byproduct of measurability. Just think of being given the task “maintain contact with former customers” versus “email 10 former customers daily.” The first task is vague—does “contact” mean via emails, phone calls, or face-to-face meetings? And how many customers must you contact to complete the task—how will you know when you’re done? And how often are you supposed to do the task? Good luck feeling empowered and motivated to be accountable, let alone to actually get the task done. The second task, on the other hand, is clear, actionable, and measureable. You can envision yourself writing and sending the emails, you can track your progress, and you’ll know when you’ve completed the task each day. When ambiguous assignments are turned into trackable tasks, expectations become explicit and accountability becomes automatic.
“We often make abstract requests of our employees yet wonder why our employees don’t give us the results we want. Here’s a hint: they’re not sure what we actually want them to do!”
Accountability isn’t a one-time deal. Every employer wants their employees to be accountable not just sometimes, but all the time. To help this actually happen, employers need a work process structured around routines—sets of “each”, “every”, and “always” tasks that make work come alive. When employees know that each day they have a check-in with the team, every week they report on their metrics, and that they always review last month’s performance as a team, they don’t have to start each day wondering “What am I supposed to get done today?”
Routines help create and maintain accountability. With routines, employees have more predictability in their workload and more consistency in their schedules, making it easier to be accountable to what’s expected of them. Organizing your work into routines results in less wasted time and frustration and primes you for more sustainable, scalable success. Our software Tactick is your one-stop accountability shop. Tactick makes it easy to break down big goals into specific, measurable, routine tasks. Because each routine and task is assigned to a specific person, everyone knows who’s accountable for doing what when. Tactick delivers daily task lists to each team member and allows you to see everyone’s progress in real time, helping you and your employees stay accountable to the simple, measureable, repeatable tasks that bring lasting success. You can start a free trial through the end of next month for you and everyone on your team!