Ep. 360: 6 Keys to Holding Employees Accountable

Accountability in the Work Place

Who should listen: Managers, business owners, project leaders, and anyone else who has supervisory responsibilities and struggles with holding people accountable.

Key idea: A focus on clarity and a commitment to upholding firm standards and consequences can help to avoid the many issues associated with poor employee performance.

Holding employees accountable at work has got to be one of management’s least favorite job responsibilities.

Most people in supervisory roles report they have limited to no effective way of successfully holding employees accountable, while employees largely feel that the standards of performance are out of their control, evaluations of their performance are subjective, and the entire performance appraisal process is demoralizing.

Evaluating employee performance, whatever its shortcomings, is necessary if organizations are going to maintain quality standards. And while we can’t take on all the changes that may be needed to improve the systems in place, we do review six key areas suggest by a Harvard Business Review article that managers can examine to enhance the effectiveness of the processes they may already have.

  1. Set extremely clear expectations: The most effective way of ensuring that expectations are clear is to have employees repeat back what they understand the expectations to be. It isn’t enough to just tell someone what is expected; you need to talk about them as well. The next step is to have employees commit to the results. Listen to this episode to find out how.
  2. Make certain employees are clearly capable of the job: It’s only fair that you make certain employees have what they need to meet your expectations. This would include talent and skills (make sure your interview process meets this challenge), training, and resources. We share a few ideas critical to resources that you’ll want to hear.
  3. Use clear standards of measurement: SMART goals are an effective way to ensure that you’ve put clear standards of measurement in place, but it’s not sufficient. You also need to provide employees with access to data.
  4. Offer clear feedback: The key to critical feedback is that it be shared with an employee as soon as possible. Waiting until later to correct a behavior—whether it be days or until their annual performance review—erodes trust. Feedback, whether it’s about the need for improvement or a comment about good performance, should be immediate, direct, and given often.
  5. Ensure clear consequences: Every organization should have a clear disciplinary process in place, but before things get out of hand and it becomes necessary to involve Human Resources, managers need to make sure employees understand how poor performance will be addressed. The key is to apply consistent standards of behavior.
  6. Set a clear example: Before holding others accountable, it’s important to look inward and evaluate whether your own performance is up to par. Employees will follow your lead, so confirm that you are hitting due dates, show up on time, do what you say you will do, and that your behavior is an example to follow.

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