Christine Corelli is an industry conference speaker, workshop facilitator and author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition.
In the past, you and every building and construction and related business owner had to get “lean and mean.” You cut costs and did whatever you needed to do to manage your working capital. You did all of these things and more in order to make it through several years of the most challenging times you've ever experienced. You trimmed the fat.
Gradually, building and construction and related businesses saw some improvement, but not quite enough. Here and now, if lawmakers approve Trump's investment in infrastructure bill you need to be sure your entire company is “Fit for a Successful Future.” And whether it passes or not, you are highly likely to see improvement in the economy. It's wise to pay attention to how you operate your business as you do to making a profit.
You may think it's a daunting task, but it's not that hard to pump up the muscle. One of the best things you can do is to establish accountability. This will provide you with a competitive edge while increasing your opportunities for long-term business growth. It will also make your job much easier, and help you to develop a great reputation.
Where to Begin
Interestingly, if you were to ask your employees to define “accountability,” you may find that each person has a different definition. Some might not even have a clue. Begin explaining its importance to your employees and help them to clearly understand its meaning.
In simple terms, accountability means that an individual is responsible for a positive result in their job role and accepts that responsibility. It also means that an individual must answer to you and their immediate boss. In the most progressive companies, however, employees are not only accountable for their performance to management, but they are also accountable to their team. Consider this: If your employees are not accountable to their team and don't serve each other exceptionally well, how can your company be fit for success? It can't.
To help their company move forward, they should be accountable to display initiative beyond their job description. For example, if an employee sees something that needs to be done, they just flex their muscles and do it. If someone needs help they help. If they receive a problem they own the problem. If a crew foreman is asked to work with his team to figure out how to handle a jobsite challenge, they all do it. And, they take ownership for their role in your company.
Real World Example
Consider this example of how to establish accountability that comes from a smart construction contractor. Each year he holds a meeting. He takes his employees to a restaurant with a private room and breaks them into groups of three. Then, he directs each team to create a list of how well they think the entire company performed the previous year and how well they served each other. Then, together, they discuss how they can build upon what they did well.
The next area of discussion is on where performance improvement is needed. How well did we perform for our customers? Did we deliver on time? How was the quality of our workmanship?
Proactive Complaint Prevention Is Key
Next, there is a discussion on how any complaints they received might have been prevented, and what new policies and practices should they put into place to prevent complaints in the future.
Time to Excel
The next areas of discussion are to identify ways they exceeded customer expectations and how they can continue to exceed — even “Wow” the customer. If you have hired top performing people, their combined brainpower can come up with great ideas, solutions to problems and even achieve excellence in all they do.
Accountable for What?
Next is the most important part of the event and should be in your company. Together, the group compiles a list of what every employee should be accountable for. Agreement is reached. This business owner recognizes that employee involvement in establishing accountability is what makes organizations fit for success, as people tend to “buy-into” what they help to create.
An “Accountability List” is compiled by their office manager and given to each employee. Some departments are different than others. The owner directs them to look at that list often. Throughout the year, management “talk ups” the promises they made.
Accountability Creates Excellence
Build the muscle and get fit for success. Define the meaning of accountability to your employees and ask what it means to them. Clarify the areas in which people will be held accountable. Expectations must be stated in a specific and clearly differentiating manner. To accomplish this and strive for excellence in all you do, define precisely whatever old behaviors or attitudes must be abandoned, and what new behaviors must be exhibited on a consistent basis.
Below are examples of how your list might look.
“We will be accountable to: Make sure our inventory is neat.
Never cut corners. We know that if even one person doesn't do the job right, everyone fails.
Take safety seriously, if not to an extreme. We will lock out and tag out equipment that is not safe, and ensure we take safety on the job site seriously.
Ask if we are not sure.
Make every effort to answer the phone by the third ring and apologize if a customer is put on hold.
Bring a positive attitude to customers and each other every day.
Recognize that with every interaction with customers, we must remember that we are 'ambassadors' of the business and have the biggest effect on customer loyalty.
Be cost-conscious and avoid waste in every area. We respect company property — trucks, tools, and equipment.
Make every effort to become the best at what we do in every aspect of business through continuous improvement.
Provide the same high level of service to each other, as we do to customers
Do what we say we are going to do.
Deliver our best performance, with every task, and every interaction, every day.”
Be Patient and Make Accountability Non-Negotiable
Building the muscle and becoming fit to ensure a successful future doesn't happen overnight. At first, you may encounter some resistance. If you do, there's no greater testament to accountability than for you to set the tone and be the example for others to follow. Be relentless in your pursuit of accountability, make it non-negotiable, and consistently communicate its importance to others. And if you are a great leader and your employees respect and admire you, they will be more apt to be truly accountable.
Hire Right and Fix Anyone Who Isn't Fit for Success
Show your accountability list to new hires. Let them know they must agree to adhere to these, or they will not fit in with your company culture and your team. Hire only the absolute best and most talented people who fully accept accountability. If anyone on your team falls short of being accountable and can weaken the muscle in your business, they should respond positively to a reminder or gentle reprimand. If they don't, you will have to take corrective action or you will not be fit for success.
The Bottom Line
In your efforts to establish accountability in your business, keep this in mind: You will never succeed if your people are not made to feel valued and appreciated. Your entire management team should be accountable to you to treat employees as well as your best customers. Make managers accountable to treat your employees with respect and appreciate their efforts on a daily basis. “Thanks for a good job.”
To build the muscle in your business, establish a culture that fosters dynamic leadership, employee involvement and empowerment. Be absolutely the best boss you can be. Then, you will be able to establish the accountability you need to build the muscle in your business and become fit for success in the future.
©Copyright, 2017, Christine Corelli & Associates Inc. — Christine Corelli is an industry conference speaker, workshop facilitator and author of six business books including the best selling Wake Up and Smell the Competition. To learn more call 847/477-7376 or visit www.christinespeaks.com.