Read an Excerpt
Keeping Employees Accountable for Results
By Brian Cole Miller
AMACOM BOOKS Copyright © 2006 Brian Cole Miller
All right reserved.
Introduction The SIMPLE Approach to Accountability
This book is written for the busy manager who wants to maximize employee and team productivity through accountability.
The principles in the book are not exclusively for the busy manager, however. Anyone can use them with a boss, peers, vendors, consultants, and business partners. You can even apply them outside the job. Use them to hold contractors, lawyers, designers, community leaders, mechanics, your teenagers, and just about anyone else in your life accountable.
While this book includes a process, several pieces can be used separately. For example, providing feedback is useful in many other day-to-day activities. Praise your son's success in school, recognize your niece's efforts in her lacrosse game, or complain to a restaurant manager about poor service.
What You Can Expect from This Book
Heavy on application, light on theory, this book focuses on how-tos. It includes steps, tips, and examples throughout. You'll learn what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. What you won't find is a lot of theory. I've included just enough to validate the how-tos but not enough to make you an expert on the subject. Busy managers don't have time for that. "Just give me what I need to get thejob done!" is what I hear most from my clients, whether large or small, for-profit or not-for-profit.
In each chapter here's what you'll see (and not see):
Lots of examples. Wherever possible I've shown one or more examples of the particular step or point. Most of them are from real companies or real-life experiences.
Some theory, but not a lot. I've included just enough to help the steps make sense, and to justify their order.
Not every possibility is covered. If it were, this book would be several volumes long. I've covered the most common circumstances. If yours are different, either ask someone for help (you can call me at Working Solutions) or get one of those long, drawn-out books.
An easy-to-read format. It highlights the basics so that you can easily skim past stuff you already know.
Details when you need them. You can delve deeper when you want more specifics and go right back to a higher level when you've had enough.
A conversational style. It's simple and makes for a quick read.
The SIMPLE Approach to Accountability
Accountability is a process that consists of six principles. Each principle builds on the previous one.
S - Set Expectations. Your employees need to know what is expected of them before you can hold them accountable for anything. You can't assume they know what is supposed to be done, when, or to what quality level. The more clearly you set expectations and goals up front, the less time you will waste later clarifying-or worse, arguing-about what was really expected.
I - Invite Commitment. Just because your employees know what to do doesn't mean they will do it. After they understand what the goals and expectations are, they need to commit to achieving them. They are more likely to do this when they buy in to two things: how the goals will benefit them personally, and how the goals will help move the organization forward. When this connection is made, they will commit to the goals. They will welcome your holding them accountable for their results.
M - Measure Results. You need information to hold your employees accountable. You will measure their performance so that you can gauge whether they've met the goals and expectations that they committed to. Goals aren't measurable unless they are quantifiable, and all goals can be made quantifiable. Measure the results and compare them to your employees' goals to find the gaps that require further attention.
P - Provide Feedback. Share the information you've gathered with your employees. Feedback doesn't solve problems by itself. It opens the door for problem-solving discussions and follow-up actions. Your employees cannot do a good job without feedback, and they certainly can't improve without it. Most of the time, giving feedback is all it takes. Setting expectations followed by quality feedback is the backbone of holding someone accountable for results.
L - Link to Consequences. Sometimes your employees will need a little more help to live up to their commitments. When they struggle to reach their goals, you can help them by administering appropriate consequences. Don't confuse consequences with punishments, though. Punishments are inflicted on employees to make them pay for their shortcomings. They do not contribute to a solution. Consequences, however, will guide and focus employees' behavior and encourage them to take their commitments more seriously.
E - Evaluate Effectiveness. After you have worked with the principles of accountability for a while, you need to evaluate how your efforts have paid off. Determine if you were successful at holding your employees accountable to reach the goals that were set. And in the spirit of continuous improvement, review how you handled the process. Find ways to be more effective at applying the principles of accountability. Hold yourself accountable for holding others accountable!
Each chapter covers one principle of SIMPLE. Each principle is divided into several how-to steps. Each step is presented in the same easy-to-read (and even easier-to-skim) format:
THE STEP describes what the step is in one sentence.
THE REASONS section explains why the step is important.
THE BASICS section covers the highlights of how to do the step or the essentials to keep in mind while doing it.
THE DETAILS section delivers all the background information about the step, substeps, examples, variations of the step, and things to be cautious about.
At the end of each chapter is a CHECKLIST that will give you the highlights of what is covered in that chapter. Use this to make sure you understand all the main points before moving on.
How to Use This Book
This book is organized so that you can readily get as much or as little information as you want. You can skim at a high level without missing the essentials. Just read the Steps, Reasons, and Basics in each chapter. When something grabs your attention, it is easy to dive deep into the Details right there.
Examples are spread throughout the book. They are displayed in a way that makes it easy to pick them out quickly. Generally, they illustrate the point being made in the text preceding them.
There is a long example at the end of Chapter 2. It shows the conclusion of all the work done in chapters 1 and 2. The other long example is at the end of Chapter 5. This one demonstrates how several steps in chapters 4 and 5 might be used together in a real-life situation.
This book is written as a process, but several pieces of that process can stand alone. For example, you can apply the principles of SMART goals to business planning, project management, employee development planning, personal goal setting, succession planning, and more.
This book will not help you much with your superstars. If you want to manage your superstars better, get a book about rewards and recognition. That said, is this book all about problem employees? Not really. Sure, you will learn how to deal with those problem employees. But more important, this book is about helping you set your employees up for success so that none of them ever becomes a problem employee!
This book outlines an ideal process that may not always jibe with the real world you live in. I recognize this and realize that you may not be able to follow every step presented here. I considered trying to anticipate every possible contingency and addressing it. Rather, I chose to trust that you wouldn't have the title "manager" if you didn't already know how to adapt or go with something that was less than a perfect fit.
Use the steps as a model or a pattern to follow when they make sense for you. Adjust your approach when they don't pertain. I have confidence that you, Busy Manager, can take what is relevant and use that to become an even better manager.
Excerpted from Keeping Employees Accountable for Results by Brian Cole Miller Copyright © 2006 by Brian Cole Miller. Excerpted by permission.
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