Detmer's Corner: Fire “Someone” Today And Get More Work Done
Like many of you, my business attracts some pretty cool clients! After all, Mike Detmer Business Solutions gets to work with some of the best manufacturers and dealers in the Technology Integration space. Frequently successful businesses keen to sharpen their saws engage me to analyze and optimize functional areas within their enterprises. As an outsider I can give them a thorough unbiased assessment that they can use to develop an action plan for improvement.
One tool I use in this process is a SWOT analysis. It’s a proven technique for flushing out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing a business. Recently, during a SWOT discovery exercise, I interviewed a division manager who was fed up with “Someone” in his organization as evidenced by his response about the company’s Weaknesses. His comments read something like this: “Someone frequently misses ordering the products we need prior to scheduled installations so we end up paying expedited freight unnecessarily,” and “Someone misses posting the work schedule updates and we lose our allotted time slots on job sites so we have to go back at another time which frustrates the crew.”
Obviously “Someone” in this organization is dropping the ball and causing critical and costly procedural errors. But digging into the matter further I found out that “Someone” didn’t exist. In the company’s processes, there were gaps that “Someone” always picked up. But as the enterprise grew in personnel, “Someone” didn’t always show up to save the day. Needless to say I recommended that it was time to fire “Someone” and put a higher level of accountability in place to ensure a smooth and profitable business flow.
If you find your organization in the same place, fire “Someone” today and replace him/her with “Accountability” instead. You’ll be amazed at how much more your business gets done when your staff knows that they are being held accountable for getting specific tacks/projects done. That’s because employees with ownership of accomplishment and clear expectations will always perform better.
To ensure that your business gets more done than ever before, here are a few tips to help you foster “Accountability”:
1.) Build accountability into your culture: Create a climate of trust through clear and concise communications. It’s important to state expectations clearly and repeat them until everyone on your team really understand what is expected of them. These expectations can’t be wishy-washy. Instead they must be crystal clear including deadline dates, exactly who is responsible for what, the details of the task and how it is deemed to be completed. Confirm that your expectations are understood by asking, “Can I count on you for that?” or “When can we count on having that done by you?” Doing so eliminates misunderstanding further down the road.
2.) Practice what you preach: If accountability is important to your company culture, then you personally have to deliver on every promise you make. Leading by example is of the utmost importance when accountability is at stake. If you’re having trouble keeping track of everything, make an accountability list or assign tasks in MS Outlook or with one of the smart phone apps like Task Task or Toodledo that are available for download. Whatever technique you choose, when you deliver so will your team.
3.) Track delegated tasks/projects like they matter: Your business is too important for people to “fly below the radar”. Great organizations provide constant feedback and your checking up with a team member on a project or task is just that. You can do this either in person or electronically. But be sure to ask specifically how their projects/tasks are going. Sometimes everything will be fine, but often there will be problems. In these cases, never ask “Why” when something is off track. Instead ask: a.) “what will be your next step to get that done?”, b.) “when will you do that?”, c.) can I count on you for getting that done?”
4.) Anticipate fall out at first: Injecting your business with a sudden dose of accountability can lead to some forms of pushback. Be prepared to handle objections as good leaders do. If someone is noncommittal and gives you to old “I’ll try my best,” line be prepared to reply in a way that lets them know that the result is most important. For instance: “I know you are going to try, but what I’m asking is can I count on you for the results?”
5.) Little things add up to big successes: In the sport of baseball they call it “small ball”, which is an offensive strategy that places runners on base and then methodologically advances them to home plate for a score. In business a similar technique can be used to implement a culture of accountability. Once your core team is confident in being accountable, new comers will naturally pick it up as the accepted way of doing things.
So all you great technology integrators out there, when your business gets bigger ask yourself, “Are you ready to fire “Someone” and get more work done?”
Good Managing! •