I often hear people-focused management described as “soft-skills”. But most leaders will report that people issues are one of their top barriers to growth, performance, and ultimately success. They don’t realize that their employees are currently operating well below their potential.
That doesn’t sound very soft to me. In fact, one of the most important people-focused management skills is far from soft — holding people accountable.
According to the 2012 Society for Human Resource Management Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, 2 of the 5 most critical factors that contributed to employee satisfaction were communication between employees and senior management, and the relationship between employees and their direct supervisors.
Employees want to communicate and have relationships that go beyond the occasional water-cooler conversation about the game that weekend. But managers often fear that employees will then treat them as friends instead of remaining accountable for producing quality work.
Employees feel that if they let their managers in, whatever they share might put them at risk. Here are three tips for creating accountability on your team, while maintaining trusted relationships between managers and employees:
Discuss all of the rules and expectations at the outset. When people know what is expected of them and what their priorities are, they can work steadily towards achieving goals.
This has to be done very explicitly. Each week, every employee should share what they accomplished over the preceding 7 days and catalogue their goals for their upcoming week. Managers essentially create a contract with employees that they will then strive to live up to. The benefit for them is that they get to see steady progress being made and feel good about the work they performed.
Establishing clear goals is like getting an alignment for your car. You pull out onto the street and your car drives beautifully. But just like at work, the road is not always smooth. Before too long your team will hit potholes and they will continually need input from their manager to stay on course.
Our team lives the value of “hold and be held accountable”:
Nothing works without personal integrity and responsibility and a culture of accountability. We not only commit to hold each other accountable to our word, commitments, objectives, and duties, but we also commit to being held accountable by our peers when we fail to deliver on what we have committed to.
When the organization values personal responsibility and integrity, people work with focus and autonomy. But accountability only works if everyone agrees to it and holds others to their own commitments.
Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.
When employees don’t know what is expected of them, or what success looks like, they will fail. Poor managers fire those people and get upset about the time and resources that were wasted. Good managers empowers employee to be their best and hold them to the highest standards.
This is an excerpt from 15Five’s Guide To Creating High Performing Teams. We offer you this valuable resource with over 20 pages of research and actionable advice for managing people to become their greatest selves.