Articles

January 2022 – Question Of The Month

January 25, 2022 - By Ian Munro, Director, B Bus Sci (IS Hons) M Com (IS)

Question: What is the big deal about accountability – why would it improve the bottom line?

 Answer: Accountability is a huge opportunity which many businesses are missing. There is no business that we have consulted to that wouldn’t have experienced a significant improvement in performance if people just did what they said they would do. Conversely, everyone has had the privilege of working with people who are entirely dependable – they always deliver what they say they will. There are a few simple things you and your leadership team can do to get closer to this:

  1. Start caring about the right things. Legitimate leaders care about two things: people and results. Not “people for the results they produce”, but “people and the results they produce”. It’s important that leaders really understand this distinction. If leaders care exclusively about results, or only care about people as a means to achieving those results, then pretty soon those same people start to feel like “resources”. Resources that are being used up – tired, disinterested, disengaged, unwilling, and in need of ever-increasing motivation (usually in the form of bigger incentives). “Resources” which are certainly not going the extra mile to meet mundane everyday commitments. On the opposite end of the spectrum, to say, “I don’t worry about the results, what I care about is people” is like saying that you really care about your children, but you prefer not to worry about their academic record. It’s inconsistent. If you care about people then you do care about the results they’re producing. After all, how else do you know how well they’re doing? Truly caring about people means that you care about the little things that enable human excellence. Things like being trustworthy, sticking to commitments and delivering on your promises.
  2. Stop giving people excuses/reasons for non-delivery. People relentlessly peddle countless reusable excuses for not delivering – like “I didn’t know it was due today” and “I didn’t realise I was supposed to do it” etc. The major problem with all of these is that they’re usually true … and almost always the leader’s fault. Giving people access to these types of excuses because we didn’t create clarity, or set standards, or ensure they had the authority to get the data they needed, is simply sloppy and lazy leadership.
  3. Deal with missed commitments quickly, appropriately, and at their source. We allow too many things to slide. A lot of the time people don’t even need to come up with excuses because we simply don’t raise the issue of non-delivery at all. Again, it’s the leaders who tend to be at fault here. One can hardly blame the underperformer for not raising his/her own underperformance! When we do raise it at the annual performance discussion (and even then this is often only because we’re forced to as part of explaining a poor bonus amount/rating), it’s far too late. Non-delivery doesn’t happen conveniently once a year at the end of a performance cycle. Organisations will struggle to create accountable cultures for as long as it takes their leaders to start addressing issues courageously, quickly, and directly at their (almost always) human source.
  4. Reinforce the good and the great with recognition and reward. Recognition and reward are far too often overlooked, even by leaders who are courageous enough to deal with non-delivery issues as they arise, and at their source. The reasons for ignoring positive and “extra-mile” behaviour are plentiful – but most often they are rooted in leaders’ near obsessive focus on results over people. When we worry about results, we spend so much of our time focusing on the weakest link in the chain (the one which is most obviously negatively affecting the result), that the strongest links receive little to no attention – until they fail, that is. Dealing with underperformance delivers, at best, acceptable performance under the watchful eye of the leader. Take the leader away and we’re back where we started. If we want sustained, innovative, exceptional giving in the workplace, we need to create a culture that recognises and rewards sustained, innovative, exceptional givers. And that requires leaders who recognise and reward these givers appropriately: attentive, generous, contribution-oriented, legitimate leaders.
Ian Munro
Ian Munro

Leading Remotely? Make Growth A Priority!

Ian Munro

Ian Munro

November 2022 – Question Of The Month

Ian Munro

Bartleby

Why The Fuss Over Quiet Quitting?

Bartleby

Tony Flannigan

Accidental Or Deliberate Growth?

Tony Flannigan

Emma Jacobs

Middle Managers – From Motivating Staff To Maintaining Company Culture, Demands On Them Intensify As They Juggle The Expectations Of Employees And Senior Leaders

Emma Jacobs

Ian Munro

October 2022 – Question Of The Month

Ian Munro

Ian Munro

Stop Complaining And Start Leading – An Overbearing Sense Of Entitlement Isn’t Good For Your Employees Either

Ian Munro

Tony Flannigan

The Cost Of Living Versus The Cost Of Leadership

Tony Flannigan

Wendy Lambourne

September 2022 – Question Of The Month

Wendy Lambourne

Wendy Lambourne

Innovating Leadership

Wendy Lambourne