Tag: people management (page 1 of 3)

Accountability is About Correction not Discipline

Accountability Not Blame

Accountability is at the heart of leading and managing people. It is about holding people to a standard and then ensuring that they are maintaining that standard. What it should not be about is blaming people and punishing them.

Holding people accountable for their work and addressing underlying issues that are the cause of performance deficiencies should be the goal of a manager or supervisor. Blame assignment should not be a part of this process. And in most cases, the first response shouldn’t be about discipline. Instead, you should be looking for the root cause of the problem, assigning responsibility, and then working with the employee to correct the cause.

Too often managers and supervisors shoot from the hip when addressing performance issues. Instead of taking the time to gather facts and think about what the long-term consequences of their actions are, or what they are looking to achieve, they just jump into blame and punish mode.

When this happens, it serves the opposite purpose of what should be the intended outcome. The manager’s or supervisor’s goal should be the discovery of the root cause of the performance deficiency and then working with the employee to resolve it. Improvement of the individual’s performance should be the focus.

The Goal of Accountability

The purpose of holding people accountable isn’t the same as discipline. Accountability is about establishing performance expectations, communicating them, and helping employees understand where they are falling short. Correction of deficiencies and improvement of performance are the key.

Accountability is not discipline. Discipline may become part of the process after you have performed the other steps necessary to address root cause and help the employee improve performance, but it should not be the focus.

Begin With the End in Mind

Anytime a manager or supervisor is addressing a performance issue they should be thinking about what the end goal is. What does the ideal state of performance look like and how does it differ from the current state. But you also need to consider what the goal is with your relationship with the employee and their relationship with the team. If you have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you will recognize this as Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.

So often we are operating from a state of putting out fires that we don’t always take the time to really think about what the end goal is and what affect our actions are having on individuals in our organization and our team.

When addressing performance issues, the key is to identify what you hope to achieve in the correction of the problem. And to make sure that those actions are in line with overall company and team goals and objectives.

In most cases, the end goal is to maximize efficiencies to ensure profitability. To accomplish this, you need to motivate your employees to want to perform to a level that meets these objectives. Your accountability objectives should be focused on the best way to improve employee performance by engaging the employee in the solution and motivating them to want to correct it.

Placing blame does not motivate people. Being concerned about them and their performance does. Having a genuine concern for the success of the individual, and framing the problem resolution in that light will motivate much more than placing blame.

An Accountability Strategy

When accessing your accountability strategy consider the following:

  • What is the end state that is desired?
  • What actions can I take to try to reach this end state?
  • How will the employee perceive your actions?
  • In what way will your actions affect the team?
  • How will your actions help reach organizational goals?
  • What is the best way to identify the root cause of the problem?
  • How can I help the employee improve their performance?

Accountability is about setting clear expectations, goals, and consequences (both positive and negative). The goal is to help employees improve their performance with the end goal of meeting organizational objects. It is not about placing blame but is about identifying the root cause of performance problems and correcting them with the end in mind.

Messaging – Its What You Say and How You Say It

Thinking about your messaging – how you deliver a message – can determine how successful you are in your communications.

Messaging is how you deliver a message and why. You need to give thought as to what the desired outcome is that you are trying to achieve. Also important is how the message will be perceived.

A blunt message with no consideration of perception will act like a hammer. It will be an attack and make people shut down.

When considering messaging here are some things to think about:

First, could the message be a negative or a positive? If it could be a negative how could you turn it into a positive?

An example: your team is not meeting its production goals. You need to communicate this in a way that helps them understand how they are falling short but doesn’t make them feel that they are being taken to task. The goal should be to motivate not frustrate.

Can you deliver the message in a way that shows concern for the best interest of your team and puts consideration on achieving organizational goals?

Second, what are you trying to achieve because of the communication? Hopefully, the communication isn’t to instill fear and intimidation.

In the example above it should be about improving your team’s performance. So, the messaging should be about concern for your team and help them to achieve their goals.

Third, once you have formulated the message consider how it will be perceived. In your mind, it may be a benign message but that may not be how others will perceive it.

You must consider how others will interpret your message. Try to see it from their perspective. How would you understand it if you were in their shoes?

Finally, think about what your motivation is. Why are you delivering this message? Is it because you’re upset, excited, encouraging?

If you’re upset and looking to get a quick fix to a problem – STOP. Give yourself some time to cool off and think about a better way to communicate what it is that is on your mind.

Before running head first to address a problem consider your messaging. Make sure you are doing things the right way for the right reason.

Think about how others will receive the message. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel receiving the message.

Make sure your motivations are in line with your values. Don’t allow your emotions to deliver a message that will blow up on you.

Messaging can be delivered in a way that will either motivate or demotivate. By taking a little time upfront to consider what your goals are and how the message will be perceived you can ensure that your communication will be a positive one.


Free Introductory Management Course Coming!

I am putting together my first management training offering. Keep an eye out for my first course offering a FREE 8-Week introductory management course titled “How to Succeed as a New Manager or Supervisor”.

More details to follow in the coming week. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I know you will really enjoy this interactive learning course which will the be first of many course offerings to follow.

I am here to help you succeed in your management and supervisory role. By sharing my knowledge and experience I hope to give you the tools to succeed. All course will be offered at fair prices and will always include my help at every stage along the way.

Comment below to let me know what courses you would like to see produced. What do you struggle with most as a manager or supervisor?

Empathy for the Person Not Just the Employee

It is easy to have empathy for our employees and the struggles they face at work, but do you also practice empathy for the individual person?

An employee’s happiness and satisfaction at work aren’t tied just to the internal factors of the workplace, they are also a product of external factors that originate in the employee’s personal life.

Our employees are whole people, not just one-dimensional beings. And while we can’t control what happens outside the workplace we none the less need to be aware of anything that is going on in an employees personal life that is impacting their work life in a negative manner.

Our concern also needs to be about the person, not just about the effect that the problems are causing on their work performance.

Empathy has to come from a genuine place of concern. It can’t be manufactured or superficial.

So what can a manager or supervisor do for an employee that is having issues outside the workplace?

To start with you can listen. Just be available to understand their problems and offer a sympathetic ear.

A word of caution on this though – even though you want to be empathetic you cannot solve their problems. You also cannot be their counselor, spiritual advisor, or psychiatrist.

Make sure that you establish clear boundaries. You don’t want to take on their problems or allow their personal issues to be an excuse for poor work performance.

Second, you can reach out to your human resources department to see if there are any employee assistance programs (EAP) that can offer counseling service that might be of benefit to the employee.

Smart companies understand the impact personal issues can have on employees. These companies offer many employee assistance programs to help employees navigate difficulties in their personal lives. Often times these services are free to the employee and 100% confidential.

Managing people requires that we find ways for our employees to have good work/life balance. It means that we need to be aware of workplace stress as well as personal issues that are causing a loss in workplace satisfaction.

Even though we cannot resolve an employees personal problems, allowing ourselves to be personally consumed by them, we can offer empathy, compassion, and resources to help them deal with the issues in their own time and manner.

Our employee’s happiness may not be our responsibility but creating an atmosphere where it is more likely they will be happy is. And the best way to create that atmosphere is to practice empathy, to care about your people, and to be available when they need you.

For more on the personal side of management check out my other post The People Connections – Making for a Happy Workplace.



When Your Attitude is the Problem and How to Fix it

Attitude is everything. How others perceive our emotional state affects how they interact with us. You may be having a negative impact on your relationships with your team members and not even know that it’s happening.

Not long ago I was giving an employee his annual performance review. It was a very positive interaction with an employee that I genuinely enjoy working with. At the end of the review, the employee shared some very candid feedback with me about my relationship with one of his coworkers.

He told me that the co-worker felt unappreciated my be. This co-worker never knew what version of me he would see his first thing in the morning – the happy-go-lucky version or the sour version.

No matter how hard this employee worked, or how much extra he gave he felt like I didn’t appreciate it. Why? Because I never said thank you and never told him what a good job he was doing.

At the end of receiving this feedback, I was a little speechless. I thanked the employee for his honesty and letting me know about this. I told him I would give it some serious thought and consider how I could change my approach.

This was an eye-opening experience for me. I was very grateful to this employee and his honesty. I was grateful that he felt comfortable enough to tell me the truth and that he said it in a way that was respectful of me and his coworker.

After receiving this feedback I re-evaluated how I was presenting myself and how I was engaging my team. And to my dismay, I realized that I had a lot of work to do.

So what did I do to improve my relationship, not just with this one employee, but my entire team?

First, I set to work improving my own attitude. Realizing that I quickly became irritated when I walked in to work to a bunch of problems I resolved to focus on the positive, on the things that were going good, first thing in the morning instead of the negative.

Second, I took a few minutes to clear my mind and check my emotional state before setting off out on the floor to visit with my team, making sure to hit the floor with a smile on my face instead of a grumpy look.

Third, I started to engage people on a personal level asking them how they were doing and genuinely listening to their problems taking the focus off of myself and my problems.

Finally, I began to make time every morning to find something to be grateful for and recognize the hard work that my team was doing. Now I look for opportunities to give recognition and always say thank you freely, genuinely, and frequently.

When one of your team mates has a bad attitude you need to look yourself in the mirror and see if you might be the reason why.

It isn’t easy admitting when you are creating the problems that are causing a member of your team to be dissatisfied with their work. But the sooner you recognized your issue the sooner you can get to work correcting it.

Be honest with yourself and with your team. Be grateful when someone on your team is honest enough to tell you the truth about yourself. Always show gratitude and respect for the work your team members do. Don’t let your problems become your team’s problems. Always put other people and their problems first.

If you take these simple acts and practice genuine concern for your employees it will help ensure that you and your attitude isn’t going to create stress for the people on your team.

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