Accountability is often an unsung hero in small businesses. Many company leaders fail to recognize the power of inspiring employees to take ownership of their actions. That ownership lets them be more engaged, which leads to greater loyalty and higher productivity. This culture of accountability should be encouraged at every level. Victor Mitchell, founder and CEO of Leadfunding.com shares a few ways you can do that:
It’s hard to be accountable for something when you’re not sure what’s being asked of you, so make sure your employees are clear on what they should accomplish. In fact, they should be part of the goal-setting process. Being part of the process makes them more invested in the outcome.
Write down their goals and your expectations so they have a reference when they’re stuck. Make sure that those goals are measurable and not vague, as leaving a goal to interpretation throws the outcome in the air. Make goals difficult but achievable by considering the time and resources available.
One of the best ways to inspire accountability in your small business is to give key employees the authority to make important decisions. You can’t hold someone responsible for the outcome if they never had a choice in how he got there. If there’s a fork in the road, let the employee choose where to go. If you don’t trust him, it’s probably best to give someone else the lead on the project.
While you may trust who you put in charge, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the project until it’s completed. Regular reviews and constant tracking can help make sure that they’re on point. Weekly meetings, for example, can not only help keep the employee on track, it’ll show that their work is important.
The frequency of reviews and meetings should match the project’s speed. Shorter projects should have weekly reviews, while you should consider monthly reviews for ones that take longer to accomplish. Make sure to focus on goals and measurable metrics. Doing so not only makes those meetings more productive, it shows employees what they should prioritize.
Not all project reviews will go well. Sometimes, a project will go off track, and you’ll need to tell the employee that the course must be righted. You don’t have to berate or punish them, especially if there’s time to change course. All you need to do is to require that they develop a plan that solves the problem.
Only if their plan is lacking should you step in and coach them. Don’t solve it for them. Letting them come up with a plan themselves helps in establishing their accountability. If you solve the problem for them, it stops being their project, in a sense. Any success from that point on will have your hands on it in their eyes, which can tamp down on their sense of ownership.
The best tip you can get is to only hire people willing to accept responsibility in the first place. All the inspiration and culture in the world won’t help someone who ducks out at the first sign of trouble. Unfortunately, there’s no test that can measure whether or not someone embraces accountability. All you have to work on is their past behavior.
Study their CV. Look at what kinds of responsibilities they’ve had before. Do they have a history of taking charge by seeking leadership roles? Call old employers and see if they’re the kind of worker you want. Ask about moments when they failed and ask them what they did to resolve the situation.
The more accountable your employees are for their actions, the better off your small business will be. Make it part of your company culture and embody it in how you take responsibility for your own actions, positive or negative. Nothing promotes accountability like a boss taking the lead.
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