Last week I was speaking with a small business owner who told me “you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know…
but HOW do I get my team working together to grow the business..
HOW do I get out of overwork and overwhelm?”
In a sentence, his firm lacks Accountability.
But what can/ should he do?
To quote an owner who has made this transition: “Knowing doesn’t make the difference.. it is Doing that matters.”
We talk about Accountability as if it is a “thing” that other companies have but we can’t seem to find, an elusive dream, a pink elephant.
Accountability is not something that is “done” to people but a contract between you (as coach) and your team member.
They know the Right Things to do, how and when to do them, what Right looks like, and agree to Get’r Done (said in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice).
It’s a process of being clear, getting people to commit, and then coaching with feedback, re-direction, praise, follow-up and sometimes tough love. It’s the proverbial “holding someone’s feet to the fire” or “inspecting what you expect.”
It’s also important that you have process to setup, agree to and expect Accountability.
The aforementioned owner thought his main problem was “finding better people”– yet a “better employee” will not be much more effective in a team who lacks accountability as a system.
Here are two quick videos from leaders on the accountability front to explain more:
From the Zenger Folkman group’s author Kathleen Stinnett, Accountability Success in Coaching
Great overview from Roger Connors of the Oz Principle: Steps to Accountability- Above the Line and Below the Line
Like exercising and eating right, most business owners express to me that they know they “should” be spending more time coaching and training their team members.
When I ask why, the answer I get is “I am too busy” – but what is the real reason?
Yes, even small business owners and managers sometimes don’t “do the job” (a short list from my article 10 reasons why someone doesn’t do the job) —
Which one applies to your situation– why aren’t you coaching your staff?
- You don’t know what to do / or how to do
- You aren’t motivated to do it (you are uncomfortable)
- You think it is pointless
- You believe something else is more important (after all, you do spend your time doing something else)
Let me first address 3 and 4— Coaching is not pointless and nothing else is more important to your company’s success.
If you want to retain top performers and get your team working together to delight your customers and grow sales— only positive coaching for accountability (based on cascading goals) will do this.
Here are four possible solutions for the “reluctant coach” — to increase the amount of coaching and positive impact on your team:
- Design and use a management rhythm— know what to say, when to say it — to clarify expectations and coach for accountability
- Make conversations easy– build trusted relationships (builds on the management rhythm)
- Practice and learn how to be comfortable—do it, learn from it, do it again (and keep it positive and appreciative)
- **Add a layer– Develop a team leader or general manager who will be the People coach, and interact with the team daily.
(You can get updates from this person, and lead weekly team update and rocks meetings to still be active and involved with the team. Just not every day and on every issue.)
(**This is also how you grow the team to stop relying on your daily presence…)
If you are not interested in creating a better process, or learning how to do it authentically and naturally, that is just fine.
Just as long as you start developing a People coach on your team who will.
Zenger Folkman report that employees who are the most satisfied and committed work for leaders who do 4 crucial “behaviors that focus on achieving challenging goals”
- Inspire them to high levels of effort
- Energize them to achieve exceptional results
- Create an atmosphere of continual improvement
- Skillful at getting them to stretch for goals that go beyond what they originally thoughts was possible
BAM- that sounds like a recipe for some high performing work!
To put it another way:
- These managers have a People Plan for each person with mutually beneficial projects and work that are designed to be challenging.
- This “stretch” work naturally develops the team member, and keeps her energized and inspired (and doing her best work).
- Employees feels that “the company provides excellent learning and growth opportunities for my own development.” (This is the key to keeping employees from looking for another job.)
- The positive coaching provided by the manager creates a team culture to perform at a high level, and this positive “peer pressure” continually reinforces the positive behaviors and outcomes.
This is the magic atmosphere where employees are engaged… performing with discretionary extra effort.
The most successful employers have 70-80% engaged employees, the worst 10-20%.
What if 7x more employees were terrific at their job- would that make a different to your team atmosphere and achievement?
If you want your department, your location, your organization to succeed- the key is managers who can positive coach and challenge the team to outperform every day.
My last article (Always a Crisis- Part 1) gave an example of “Chase” – a newly promoted supervisor who is struggling with his promotion to a new role.
I outlined the three main causes of performance gaps and four action steps to uncover the underlying cause and related solutions.
Once you identify the source and jointly develop a performance action plan, we will need to coach weekly towards improvement.
- One possible outcome is that the person is making progress, although possibly not as fast as you would like. Be patient and keep working with someone who is trying their best.
- Another possible outcome is that there is very little noticeable improvement in the first 30 days. Now you have to determine if this is a motivation issue or an ability issue.
Ability scenario – After about 60 days if you continue to witness that the person is “always in crisis,” the solution may be to move back to a role that has a short time span (daily tasks, tasks in natural sequence) rather than important projects.
Sometimes the solution is temporary – scale back the scope of the job with smaller “bites” to allow this person progress in competencies that take time to develop. Sometimes even with a slower development, this person make lack the necessary competencies.
In addition to weekly coaching, a monthly status update (end of month 1, 2, 3) is important to discuss progress and revise your action plan. It is important that you recognize effort and improvement, even if it is not as fast as you desire.
Motivation scenario– Sometimes you find that even with a great training plan, he does not make the expected effort. For example, the person does not complete the training action items or make seem to attempt changes to work habits or other behaviors. This is a symptom of a lack of motivation—it is possible he can do it, but chooses not to. No amount of coaching will improve the athlete if they are not “doing the reps.” Then this is a separate conversation.
If progress is not being made, then a crucial conversation needs to be clear on the potential consequences (change in role, move to another job, loss of job) before it happens.
This is not an easy situation to resolve, and requires a thoughtful and candid approach with a willingness of both parties to work together to identify the source and solutions.
Done well, even with a change back to his old job, you can retain and engage Chase as a valuable team member.
Done poorly, Chase loses engagement and will likely leave in a year or less. Or worse, you ignore the situation and Chase flounders in the job longer, losing his motivation and not providing the performance you need to serve your customers and the rest of the team.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Chase left our conversation abruptly. Across the plant floor, he had spotted a problem and rushed to make a correction. He was apologetic on his return. “Sorry, but this is why I called you today. I feel like a two armed octopus. There are eight things that need to happen, but I can only work on two problems at a time. Things get out of control about fifteen minutes into the day. And they never stop. At the end of the day, I look at my boss’ list of projects and the important things never seem to get worked on. There is always a crisis.” (Excerpt from Tom Foster management blog, 11/28/14)
Do you have an employee who is struggles with performing in their new role (either a new hire or an existing person who you gave a different responsibilities)?
How do you think “Chase” is feeling? Delighted this new position is overwhelming? Going home feeling a sense of accomplishment? Feeling like a success? Most likely Chase is disappointed and frustrated, as he wants to do a great job and feel competent.
After all, you thought he had what it takes to this this job well. And you hold the keys to finding out if this is a temporary training issue or a mis-match of his attributes to what is required to fill the role.
If you have a Chase on staff, I recommend evaluating for job fit through the following steps, and then jointly outlining a plan to give him the training, tools, and support to potential succeed.
If you both make an effort to develop his knowledge, skills, and competencies, he has a fair chance to do well.
Three main causes of performance gap, based on ability:
- Person isn’t ready—needs more skill development
- Person needs systems- may excel if given a structured process to plan and monitor work
- Person isn’t a fit to job role- lacks key competencies that are difficult to develop in short term
Your Action Steps
- Evaluate for job fit- identify the cause of gap
- If coachable gaps, jointly create and implement a training action plan with Chase
- Develop and coach on process and systems
- Coach weekly towards improvement. If slow progress be patient and keep going. If there is no noticeable improvement or it is not lasting, more intervention is needed.
See next article for tips on a 90 day coaching plan for performance improvement “Always a Crisis— Part 2”
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net