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Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for March, 2015

Simple Ways to Improve Accountability

I had this article published this week in Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle. Thought I’d share it here. Your experience and comments are welcome.

. . . . . Simple Ways to Improve Accountability by Donna Rawady, published in Democrat & Chronicle, Tues, March 10, 2015

Lack of accountability is one of the most prevalent obstacles to success and common sources of frustration in the workplace. Although industries and work environments may vary widely, human nature and workplace behaviors remain consistent when accountability is lacking.

Some people find it frustrating that co-workers fail to carry their weight on a team, even after they’ve agreed to do so. Others are upset with managers who fail to enforce accountability with their employees. Leaders and managers are frustrated because their direct reports after repeated performance discussions — continue to fall short of expected deliverables. And teams find themselves frustrated with slow to no progress towards brilliant solutions discussed during meetings.

Applying these simple tactical tools is guaranteed to increase accountability and desired results in any one of the above scenarios:

– At the onset of a project or assignment, work together to chunk ideas down into small, doable, and specific actions.

– Assign actions to a specific individual or team.

– Agree on and set specific target dates for each action.

– Together, re-check the actions assigned — and adjust if necessary — to ensure that actions are non-arguable. (i.e., Identify more new prospects is arguable. Identify and obtain contact information for 3 new prospects by the end of the day Friday, is non-arguable.)

– Email a recap of agreed upon actions and target dates, or publish and distribute a documented project plan among a team, listing agreed upon actions, who is responsible for each, and when each action is due to be completed.

– Schedule a follow-up meeting or conversation to review the action items and progress and then repeat the above process as you continue with the project or plan.

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Minimize risk—”Pilot” your next great idea.

Thinking about recommending or leading a new strategy within your organization? You can minimize your risk, and increase your opportunity to swiftly fine-tune and measure success, if you’re able (and it’s possible) to approach your idea as a “pilot” versus a large-scale organizational change.

As an example—Say you have some great ideas for implementing a new centralized project management system in an organization that has been practicing decentralized project management. You can imagine, if you don’t already know, that you’re going to come up against some significant resistance. You can push for implementation across the organization, and deal with the inevitable company-wide anxiety and glitches of a new system. Or, you can recruit just two or three individuals or one department, to participate in a manageable “pilot” where participants will have the opportunity to utilize the centralized project management process, provide real-time feedback, and in turn, help to work through the bugs and improve the process before rolling it out company-wide.

Another benefit of sponsoring a pilot program is that it helps build everyone’s awareness of a pending organizational or departmental change, while giving people the time and opportunity to get used to the idea and support it before they have to personally abide by the change. And the participants in such a pilot may be your best and most confident advocates for the program after the process is tight, and ready to be communicated and rolled out to the organization.

Certainly a pilot approach may take longer as it relates to introducing full-implementation of a new project or process. Yet, there may be significant time saved in fine-tuning a program and/or strategy within a smaller arena, and working through the “bugs” while they’re only affecting the pilot participants. The mere title of “pilot” reflects an experimental or trial undertaking. And a trial undertaking allows for error and can be much easier to manage and adjust accordingly.