By Mike Scott, president & consultant, Mike Scott and Associates
Elephants don't bite. But mosquitoes? Now that's another story. It's those pesky little critters that bother you so much. In fact, it was the mosquito that almost prevented the Panama Canal from being built! In your business, it’s the little, preventable problems that eventually cause big problems.
In my more than thirty years helping companies become more efficient, productive, and profitable, I’ve found that the key to stopping these small but catastrophic problems is accountability. When you foster a culture of accountability in your organization, things don’t slip through the cracks. Rather, things get done. And you know they’re getting done.
I’ll be sharing a comprehensive plan for increasing accountability during PPC’s upcoming Fall Meeting in October. For now, though, here are three initial steps you should take today to begin your journey towards full accountability.
1. When you ask someone to do something, have them repeat back what they understand the end result to be. Do the same thing when someone asks you to do something. A 1998 study from Harvard University found that over half of everything that’s said isn’t heard. And even half of that is forgotten! By having your employees repeat your request, you not only ensure that you’ve been heard, you also ensure that your employee takes complete ownership of the task. This way, no one can say, “I wasn’t sure what you wanted me to do.”
2. Mutually agree upon the date and time a task is to be completed. The priority is zero until an agreed upon date and time for completion is established. This too is a part of complete ownership. Here there is no confusion about due dates. No one can say, “I wasn’t sure when you wanted it done.”
3. Track all of the tasks you assign. Today there are hundreds of project management apps and software programs available to do just this. Simply put, work that is tracked gets done.
What happens if you follow through with the above steps and someone still fails to complete a task on time? Don't ask, "Why didn't you get it done?" That will just solicit an excuse. Instead, to get the ball rolling again in a productive manner, ask the following three questions:
"What's your next step to get it done?"
"When are you going to do that?"
"Can I count in you for that?
In your business, it’s the little, negative things—those that never should have happened—that cause big problems. Use the above three steps to stop the little issues from becoming big issues. This first move toward full accountability can make a tremendous and positive effect on your success. I hope to see you at Fall Meeting to learn much more about the power of accountability.