How do I begin to change from an “enablement” culture to an “accountability” culture?

In past newsletters I have written about the challenges facing business owners when they have an “enablement” culture verses an “accountability” culture.  Recently I began working with The Boss to change a company’s enablement culture to an accountability culture.

I asked the six supervisors in this organization to list the eight most critical job duties of each of their direct reports.  Then I asked the employees of these supervisors to list what they thought their eight most critical job duties were.  In the next step we compared what the supervisors identified as critical and what their employees reported as their most critical.  In most cases the supervisors and direct reports were in-line on about five or six of the most critical job duties.  This left us with an opportunity to improve efficiencies and workflow.  Efficiencies can be gained when employees understand what The Boss sees as most critical to the company’s success and in turn their success.  The other duties listed by employees, but not seen as most critical by The Boss, were taking valuable time away from the truly critical duties necessary for the organization to reach its full potential.  This does not mean the less critical duties are to be ignored, on the contrary they need to be done but not at the expense of the critical job duties.  Critical duties first then other duties as time allows.

As we continued discussions with the supervisors and the employees we identified the inflows and outflows of the work process.  One employee’s outflows were another employee’s inflows.  A lack of outflows of critical duties from many employees upstream in the production process was causing a “bottle neck” in the production cycle downstream.  The employees who were upstream did not understand what their teammates downstream needed and why.  We introduced the concept of “internal customer” and encouraged each employee to see the person next to them as an internal customer.  This company had a great reputation for outstanding customer service and every employee knew The Boss would accept nothing short of excellence when it came to customer service.  Now we were taking customer service to the next level. 

Once we got the eight critical duties in alignment within the production process, we began to list the tasks needed to complete each of the critical job duties.  Each critical job duty included six to eight tasks need to complete that duty efficiently.  This process taught each employee what they needed to do to be successful in completing each critical job duty.  It also communicated to each employee what The Boss expected them to do on a daily, if not hourly, basis.  Now The Boss could hold the employee’s “accountable” to these tasks which in turn made them accountable to each critical job duty.  

These duties and tasks became part of the employee’s job descriptions and were included in their performance evaluations conducted bi-annually by their supervisors.   Performance based raises were awarded depending on the quality of work as measured by these duties and tasks.  The overall efficiencies of the organization improved as employees now understood what was important and why their “internal customer” needed work to be done in a certain way.  As you can imagine this process reduced costs.  The Boss improved profitability of the organization without raising prices or chopping heads.  Good employees will do good work if they know what their job duties are and how to do the tasks associated with those duties.  Your employees are too valuable to your organization, it is your job to communicate to them what success looks like; then train, measure, and reward!