How to get greater accountability to get things done in your business

There’s a business owner I know who was feeling stressed about their business. Specifically, it was about the team not completing their day-to-day tasks on time, or people not following through on the commitments they made. There was no accountability. Also, mistakes were made too often, and nobody was grabbing a problem and sorting it out. It was just a nightmare getting things done.

The owner’s first thought was to have a bonus scheme that rewarded the good people. But they couldn’t think of how to make it work. They asked me for ideas on how to structure a scheme.

I had to be honest and say that they were taking the wrong approach.  Greater accountability and getting things done comes from:

  • Everybody being very clear on what their job is and how the team works together;
  • Everybody knowing what ‘doing a good job’ or ‘getting things done’ looks like’;
  • Regularly checking that things are getting done.

There is no single thing to do that makes accountability happen. But the following will help you.

In my previous blog I talked about how business owners like you could stop being the hub of the business. Having greater accountability across the business is definitely one of the things to focus on. It also impacts the five areas of business improvement I listed:

  1. Creating standard operating procedures
  2. Increasing Automation of standard processes and workflows
  3. Having clarity & focus for all the people in the business on where the business is going and how each member of the team will contribute to that future
  4. Having the team do daily management of performance and workloads
  5. Engaging staff so that they can give more to the business

You may be asking where do I start with greater accountability across my business? There isn’t a standard running order. It will vary by business but one tool I would strongly recommend you start with is creating a scorecard.

Imagine you are away on that 3 month holiday and the business continues without you. Your team sends you a text each week with a handful of scores or measures about the business. What would you like to see so that if the scores were good, you could go back to sitting beside the pool and having a drink?

I played back this scenario to that business owner plus all the members of my mastermind groups. A scorecard is a great tool to get ownership and make things happen. But before you get worried about creating some cottage industry of scorecard creation, read on for my recommendations.

Here are my top tips:

Tip 1: start small and don’t over complicate it.  Keep to less than 10 measures for the whole business. Just like in your car, whilst it’s a complicated machine, you probably only check a few things – speed, fuel? Translate those two measures into a business context: Speed could be the level of sales each week and fuel could be the size of the sales pipeline.

Tip 2: make sure your handful of measures fit in with your business vision and big goals, say 1 and 3 year goals. It’s probably best to talk to your managers about the measures that fit best.

Tip 3: Ask your team what measures help them know they have done a good job in the last week. If they can suggest a weekly measure then that can be rolled up for months, quarters and the full year.

Tip 4: Don’t forget measures can include those that say how well your processes are doing. Examples could be customer satisfaction, level of rework, time to complete tasks.

Tip 5: Make sure each measure on the scorecard has a single owner who is accountable for its performance. This is the start of the magic of accountability and where the business owner I mentioned started to get real results.

Tip 6: Have a weekly scorecard and a clear process for pulling it together and sharing with those who need it. Ideally a weekly short management team meeting that looks at the scorecard is the way to do it.

Tip 7: Once you have a company scorecard up and running, though you can change it over time, be ready to create scorecards further down the business – one of each manager or department.

Using scorecards for your business is a valuable step toward achieving your goals and staying competitive. Remember that it’s not a one-time effort; regular review, analysis, and adaptation are crucial to make it work. Accountability will  start to become real and things start getting done much better and faster.

If the idea of scorecards and measuring success in you business makes you curious to learn and do more then read the eBook The Owner’s Metric.

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