Creating A Totally Accountable Work Environment

Three key factors that immediately increase revenues and profits.

Accountability is defined as doing what you said you would do, as you said you would do it, when you said you would do it – period! It is living from this principle that builds top companies and top employees. Productivity increases when systematic accountability increases.

Consider for a minute a company you do business with that you would regard pretty close to operating as a “Totally Accountable” company. It may be a dry cleaner you use, a restaurant you visit, a vendor for your company. Is it difficult to think of one? It is for most people.

Would people think of your company as totally accountable?

W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, said it isn’t normally people who fail; it is the systems or processes that fail. Creating accountability in your workplace is not difficult if you develop and implement some simple guidelines about how you operate.

Here are three accountability ideas that can immediately improve the productivity and efficiency of your workplace: delegate, enhance and eliminate.

Delegate Work More Effectively
What does it mean when someone says, “I need that project done as soon as you can get to it?” Or, “I need that report review complete by the end of the week or by Tuesday?” These are general, rather than specific, requirements for a commitment.

Why is it that people do not like to ask for real commitments for completion of work? Our seminar participants say it is because they don’t like to make commitments themselves. So if I don’t ask you to commit, you won’t ask me to commit.

Whenever you give or get delegated work, be sure you give and/or get a date and time for completion of the work. Include the completion time as well. This makes sure there is no misunderstanding. Complete by Friday may mean 12:00 noon and not 5:00 p.m. as most people believe. Make giving and getting a completion date and time for every delegated request a standard operating procedure throughout your company. Then watch for the positive changes.

Enhance Effective Communication
A 1998 study of verbal communication showed that over 50 percent of what is verbally communicated is 1) not heard, or 2) misunderstood, or 3) misinterpreted, or 4) forgotten, or 5) ignored, or 6) misstated. That leaves a wide opening for problems. We know that what is predictable is preventable. All of the above is predictable. How do we prevent it? We use the same process the FAA and hospital surgical operating room personnel use. We repeat back whatever is verbally communicated. It immediately stops the problems found in the study.

Repeat back whatever you are asked to do for the next 21 days. Clarification is instant. Your employees will notice your modeling and begin to do the same repeating back.

Eliminate the Words “I’ll Try” from your Company
You’ve heard it and perhaps done it yourself. You ask someone to do something and they say “I’ll try.” What does I’ll try mean? It means that if something doesn’t get done, the excuse is built in. You ask someone, “Did you get that project done?” They say, “No, but I told you I would try.”

However, to track work, they use a myriad of systems. Some involve paper or memory, and some involve electronic software like Microsoft Outlook or Entourage.

From now on, when you ask someone to have something completed by Friday at 2:30 p.m., and they say any form of I’ll try, you say, “I know you are going to try, but what I need to know is, can I count on you to have it completed by 2:30 p.m. on Friday?” Don’t tell people you will “try” to get something done, either.

Utilization of the right systems and processes to accomplish work increases the level of accountability, efficiency and productivity.

Immediate Application Ideas
You just read three ideas that when applied will immediately improve your personal results and those of the employees of your company. Delegate work more effectively, enhance effective communication and eliminate the words “I’ll try” from your company. Choose just one of these ideas and begin to apply it for the next 21 days so it becomes a habit. Watch the positive results that happen.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Mike Scott Meet the Author
Mike Scott is president of Mike Scott & Associates, headquartered in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and on the Web at www.totallyaccountable.com.