Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Be Accountable

As Donna and I await our second child, due November 20th. I"ve begun to think back to when Mia, our three year old was born.

Past the elation and wonder at life's miracles it also hit home as I stared into her beautiful little eyes that, nestled in my arms was someone completely reliant on me. While a part of that was nice, the other realization was the increased importance of my ability to "provide".

Its funny how in life, if the only person who is effected is me, I take a much greater laissez-faire attitude to decisions. When someone else relies on me .. the pressure is on. In the case of Mia, the pressure was good. It acted as a fuel by providing extra purpose to the speaking & photography businesses I'm building.

In our work lives, accountability serves the same purpose. If we work in a job where we are not accountable to anyone other than our boss, it can be a dangerous place. When work teams are set up such that members are accountable to each other on a regular basis, great things happen:

1) Team Members get regular feedback. As human beings we need feedback. We need it now, tommorrow, the day after. We constantly need feedback. Praise is great, but knowing where we need to improve is also cool. We just need to know where we stand.

While silence should mean "agreement" with a person's performance, we all know that an extended vacuum of feedback is usually filled with negative doubt and not helpful in motivating employees. I've been there. I know many of you have as well.

2) Increased Corporate Profits when misunderstandings are caught sooner than later because employees have expectations of each other that need to be met on a regular basis. Regular expectations of team members from each other, act as "check-ups" to make sure your process is on track to success. When it is not, flags can be raised and misunderstandings corrected (sooner rather than later, when it becomes harder to deal with).

3) Purpose. You've probably all heard of Rick Warren's best seller book the "Purpose Driven Life". The title hits a wish cord in many of us. We all need "purpose" to be motivated and sometimes to simply get us off our butt. I don't know if any of you would say you work better under pressure. I know that is a fact for myself. Regular accountability to each other means regular deadlines which gives me the positive pressure I need to stay focused on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It can do the same for your team. Use it to your advantage.

Accountability is tougher when you deal with remote employees. The danger with remote employees, those you rarely see face to face is that 'out of sight' can also mean out of mind. A system of regular structured communication is doubly important. We all probably know someone who feels cut-off and unimportant in their remote office.

The Transportation sector is no exception. Long Haul Transport Drivers can be on the road for weeks at a time. If you are a transport company the question should be: What regular expectations of communication are built into their daily routine? Not just to protect the company but ironically and as importantly, to protect the driver's sanity and levels of motivation. Regular feedback can decrease your risk of driver dissatisfaction, abandoned loads etc.

Each accountability point can and should be a feedback opportunity to keep the driver focused on success, yours and theirs.

As for me.. a week or less until some increased accountability comes in to my life and I'm looking forward to it!