Last weekend, yet another winter storm warning was issued for New Jersey. The threat of a snowstorm was increasing and snow totals were putting Eatontown, NJ, home of PCG Digital Marketing, in the 8-12 inch bracket. With snow scheduled to arrive Sunday night into Monday morning, managers warned their teams to bring home their laptops and be prepared to work from home on Monday.
On Monday morning I woke up to three inches of snow.
Who do I blame? Mother Nature? Weathermen? Last time I checked, meteorology was a science that required a degree, yet I don’t believe that any weatherman was fired.
Let’s put it this way: You have a report due end of day Thursday. You hand it in with the last page incomplete, making the task incomplete. Maybe you can get away with this, but more likely than not, you can’t and your boss will hold you accountable to complete the job.
Accountability is key for both employees and their managers. While it’s up to the employee to finish the job, it’s up to managers to make sure that the job is done correctly.
Unless you’re a meteorologist, here are three ways to hold your team accountable.
1. Set clear expectations.
When expectations are set, there is little confusion over what is expected of an employee. As a manager, you should clearly define the task, the details, the end result and the due date. Don’t make it so that your best employee is a mind reader. Setting expectations helps employees produce the anticipated result.
For example, let’s say that you’re a content manager assigning a blog post to a writer. The assignment should include the topic, any details that must be included, potentially a source of information, word count and a due date.
2. Track employee performance.
Everyone likes to know how he or she is doing, but this goes beyond the desire to please. This is necessary for the good – repeated behavior – and the bad – retraining or letting someone go.
Let’s say that your salesman is talking to a potential customer. Two minutes later, you see the customer walk out the door. What happened? Maybe he wasn’t smiling or wasn’t engaged with the customer. Maybe he had no idea what he was doing and needs retraining. Regardless, it’s up to you, the manager, to find out what happened and where things went wrong. If you need to retrain, do that, and track improvements.
On the other hand, let your employees know what is working for them. If your employee nails that sales pitch, let him know. Better yet, let him know what he did right. Did he use a personal story to really connect with that potential customer? Make sure he knows that it was successful so that it will be done again.
Either way, be sure to document the progress of your employees so that they know what they are responsible for.
3. Follow through on consequences (and benefits).
This step sounds simple but, from experience, I have seen that it is the hardest step. To follow through on consequences, you must be completing the first two steps. If employees do not know what they are expected to do and they have no idea how they are doing it, it is almost impossible to be able to provide them with consequences or benefits.
If your employee hands you a report with the last page not completed, return it to your employee and find out why they didn’t finish it. Did they not know how to do something? If so, retrain them on it. Did they just completely forget about it because they were watching YouTube again? Document this with a consequence, such as a written warning.
If poor performance does not result in a consequence, the employee will believe that the behavior can be repeated without consequence.
This needs to be done with jobs done well too. If you’ve been promising an employee a reward for reaching a sales goal, make sure he or she receives it. If not, they’re going to quickly learn that good behavior is not rewarded.