Are You Accountable?
Empower Employees to Help Increase Profits
by Richard Voreis
The theme of our discussions is how to be more successful
in challenging times. Employee empowerment is a hot topic and certainly
is important in today’s challenging business environment. Without accountability
within the organization, the top executive or owner ends up being the
only one held accountable. I don’t think this is the right way to run
a business and hopefully you also agree.
If I came to your company and interviewed a representative number of your
employees, how would they answer this question: What are the company’s
top priorities for this year?
I’m sure that most employees want to see it succeed, but I often find
employees have difficulty expressing what the company wants and what they
are expected to do to contribute to its success. This is a symptom of
lacking clearly communicated goals and not establishing employee accountability
for reaching them. Employee focus, empowerment and accountability must
be established to drive and sustain results and success.
The lack of such goals is often a major problem. During a recent consulting
engagement the interviewees were asked: “What are the company’s top priorities
for this year?” Responses received included:
• Increase sales;
• Don’t know; no idea; never heard of any;
• Become a Fortune 500 company;
• Develop processes and procedures;
• Implement a system of controls;
• Improve profitability;
• Improve efficiencies;
• Get organized;
• Complete projects;
• Priorities change extremely often;
• Nothing in writing; and
• I don’t know.
While many people mentioned some company top priorities, many were different,
most responses were not specific and others were just disappointing, such
as “I don’t know.” My feeling was these employees were basing their responses
on personal assumptions rather than what they have been told.
Additionally, not one employee mentioned any measurable priorities. For
example, measurable priorities would be to increase sales or profits by
a specific dollar amount or percentage increase.
Personal Action Plans
On a closely related matter, here are some additional accountability questions
for you to think about. If I interviewed a representative number of your
staff what would they say with respect to the following questions: What
are you doing to support the company top priorities? What are your personal
action plans or personal objectives to drive success at your company?
Everyone wants the company to succeed, but many employees have difficulty
expressing what they do to contribute to its success.
Not too long ago, on a consulting engagement in the glass industry, I
asked these same questions and got the following responses:
• Nothing specific;
• Nothing in writing;
• Nothing formal;
• Spend more time at my job;
• Do the best I can do;
• Set a good example for others to follow;
• Be proactive;
• Plan ahead; and
• Refine job costing.
Most of the responses were very general in nature or just disappointing.
As with the top priorities I discussed earlier in this article, the answers
were not very specific, not measurable and in most cases didn’t address
how the personal objectives would be accomplished.
Additionally, no one had any written personal objectives or action plans
that would indicate accountability. Action plans drive accountability
and generate great results.
It was clear this company did not have an effective management system
in place to focus employees on the success of the company and how each
employee makes it happen.
What do you think your employees would say about their personal action
plans? Are your employees accountable?
Richard Voreis is the founder and CEO of Consulting
Collaborative in Dallas. His column appears bi-monthly. Email him at email@example.com
and read his blog on Wednesdays at http://dollarsandsense.usglassmag.com.
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