Part 1 of…What should my people be answerable for?

by Sam on May 24, 2011

Perhaps the most vexing question I hear from executives is, “How can I get my employees to accept responsibility for their behavior and for the outcomes of their performance?” My first response is, “Have you defined the accountability you expect from them so that your standards are without question?”

Well…have you?

The starting point to get employees to behave responsibly is to leave no doubt regarding the expectations you have for their work. “But what would such expectations look like?” you might say. “After all, we have published job descriptions. What more can we do?”

Job descriptions are a good start, but they only cover the what. They describe the quantitative scope of work. They gloss over the most vital element of job success–the how–the qualitative behavior you require in the doing of the work.

Here are 15 essential expectations to have of your people.

1. When serving your internal and external customers be satisfied only when you have solved the problem they bring to your attention; more than providing service, supply solutions and pain relief.

2. Treat the members of your work team and adjacent work teams with respect; fulfill the valid requirements they have of your support of their missions.

3. Accept full responsibility for your actions, whether in matters of quality and quantity of work, attendance and punctuality, personal behavior, or work relationships.

4. Be a good steward of company assets; request and use only the amount of resources you need to do your job.

5. Produce work that is dimensionally correct, functionally accurate, cosmetically appealing, and valuable to customers.

6. Continuously search for and suggest ways to do things better, faster, less expensively, and more safely.

7. Demonstrate work practices consistent with the safety training you have received and with published safety practices.

8. Take initiative, embrace change, and take advantage of the opportunities they present.

9. Promise only what you can deliver; deliver everything you promise; display a sense of urgency and meet deadlines.

10. Do not misrepresent the truth, withhold it, or lie to anyone.

11. Reflect the highest moral and ethical standards in your behavior; demonstrate character to your coworkers and to your customers.

12. Follow proper chains of authority when inquiring, communicating, and reporting both within and outside of your functional group.

13. Provide helpful feedback to others: acknowledge their outcomes with praise and provide constructive criticism when needed.

14. Actively solicit feedback on your performance; receive it non-defensively and act on it to get better.

15. Plan your professional growth; take advantage of training and other development opportunities and resources to become stronger and more valuable to your colleagues, to your customers, and to the company.

Might there be more behavioral requirements for you to insist upon? Almost certainly. Consider what you’d like to add to the 15 to establish your list between now and next Wednesday. Then, in Part 2, you’ll learn exactly how to use that list to infuse greater accountability into your workplace.

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