Building a high performing team takes a lot of planning and research, not to mention choosing the right people for the job in the first place. Putting together a group of people that seems like the right fit won’t mean much if there isn’t accountability involved. Accountability is the final step towards ensuring your team can follow through with the tasks required. Here are some ways you can help your team exceed expectations.
Hire people who take responsibility
Your hiring process should include ways to find out if the candidate is someone you can depend on. A candidate who has shown strong reliability in past positions. The recruiting team needs to be aware that a thorough vetting is a high priority. As it’s the first ingredient in building a successful team of any type. Your team can ask questions like, “Tell me about a time when you made a high impact commitment and followed through,” or “How do you maintain personal accountability?”
Set clear and realistic goals/expectations
When setting goals for your team, you must clearly communicate expectations. You should also take steps to make sure everyone is aware of where they stand. By collaborating with your team to develop daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, you can ensure that each person knows what part they must fulfill. Providing scorecards and dashboards that everyone can view helps your team to maintain focus.
When developing goals, it is important to keep in mind that your team can only fulfill what is realistically required of them. If you think they’re falling behind or not keeping up with demands, make sure your expectations aren’t set too high. It’s good to encourage vigilance through strong goals, but keep things realistic. By working with your team to establish goals together, everyone can feel that they have had a hand in developing meaningful goals that are important to them.
Know how and when to delegate
Responsibility is about doing what you said you would do, but it’s also about considering the entire team when managing your workload. Falling behind will not only hurt you but also your team. It’s your responsibility to delegate less critical tasks so you can remain focused on more important issues.
When delegating, make sure to give team members tasks that will help them develop their skills and give you a way to identify future leaders. By explaining that the tasks you’re assigning them are a way for them to improve, you will make sure that your team is not resentful of extra work. In this vein, it’s also important to be cognizant of how additional responsibility will impact the time your team has to dedicate to their daily expectations. Having an honest and open conversation when delegating is the best way to ensure it is a productive and helpful exercise.
Measure and review results
Knowing whether or not you can count on your team and if they’re doing everything that’s needed is not something you can “guesstimate”. You need to keep track of what is getting done. More importantly, this also allows you to know how much your team has progressed as a group, compare weekly or monthly results, and find out what needs to be improved.
Sales is an area where your results and efforts are clear. You can better understand your team by reviewing the results. This can help you identify strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a plan to celebrate and overcome them, respectively.
Address deficiencies and challenges
If you don’t address any major issues or flaws you notice, they will become a habit. There’s no way for an employee to know they’re not doing something right if they are not told. Guiding an employee as you correct or point out any mistakes is crucial for accountability.
Recognition is key for team morale, and for each employee to feel encouraged. Rewarding is a way of saying that you see the work they’ve put in and acknowledge their effort. Holding people accountable is about seeing them, and praising good performance is a positive way of saying you know your employee is someone you can count on.
Listen and be open to suggestions
Holding people accountable does not go just for employees and salespeople, it applies to everyone, including managers. Listening to what people have to say is a good way to know what you need to improve and hold yourself accountable for. Additionally, feedback can help you understand if perhaps there is something you are not doing to help the culture of accountability in the company.
Coach and train your employees
As you welcome new people to the team, the culture you want to see in your company needs to be properly explained and introduced to a new member. This is the right moment to implement and teach all the measures taken to ensure accountability.
And even when it comes to employees who are already part of the company, it is a great way to encourage different behavior and lead them in the right direction. When you have top performers, it can be easy to forget that they need coaching to continue to improve their skills. By taking a personal approach for team members in each stage of their development, you can help everyone consistently progress.
Hold each other accountable
Teamwork is about working together and bringing each other up by helping out, so why should it be any different when it comes to accountability? In a non-hostile way, asking about something that should have been done can be a great way to make sure people are following through. Methods like having a “buddy system” where pairs of employees check on each other’s tasks can be a fun way of doing so.
Focus on rewards, not punishments
If an employee needs to improve their performance, punishing them is not the way to help. Punishing should not be the opposite of rewarding – just because you like to praise your employees who are doing well does not mean you should proportionally punish those who aren’t.
If there is a behavior that needs changing, you can recognize the things an employee does well and coach them on ways to improve. When you see them taking action, you can reward them and consistently encourage their progression towards the ideal behavior.
Follow up on goals after talking
If you set goals for a certain employee or talked to them about improving their performance, that is great! As their manager, however, you need to check on them and see if they are following your advice or trying to change to fulfill those goals.
Giving instructions and talking to them is only half of the process because it doesn’t mean anything if it’s not actually helping things to change. Having scheduled check-ins is great, and it’s even better to reach out to team members and keep an open line of communication.
A team without a culture of accountability is a team being run on false promises. It doesn’t matter how much you plan if things don’t happen. It’s all about working together, checking on each other, and trusting each other to be responsible.
Tess Bell is Head of Direct Sales and Account Management at NextRoll, inc. NextRoll Inc. is a marketing and data technology company with a mission to accelerate growth for companies, big and small. She previously worked as a New Business Sales Manager at NextRoll, inc. and before that as a Head of Sales and Customer Success at Marketstar.