"Good sales people aren't motivated by money......they are driven by it. Create a sales compensation plan that will drive your sales force to high levels of performance."

"A failure to plan is ultimately a plan to fail......some form of strategic planning is evident in virtually all successful businesses."

"A well constructed performance review process is fundamental to creating a culture of communication, clarity, and high performance."

Online performance review systems are very effective in managing an organization's employee review process. Visit ReviewSNAP to learn more.

Supervisor Training Segment

Supervisor training should be an integral and ongoing process in any organization. The training segment below is a brief example of the type of supervisor training that can provide meaningful insight to individuals charged with overseeing employees.

Training Segment: Instilling Accountability

The concept of accountability is a constant in business. Holding people responsible for performance is the basis for sound management of people. Without accountability, managers have virtually no hope of being effective. Their people will test the waters and if they aren't held responsible for reaching performance standards or behaving in an acceptable manner on the job, productivity and morale of high performers will suffer.

  • Accountability is simply being responsible . Responsible for doing what is expected of us.
  • As a manager, your success depends on your ability to get work done through others. Once you have set clear and reasonable expectations as to what needs to be done, your people must be held responsible (accountable) for meeting those expectations.
  • For example, if you have set the expectation for one of your people that he/she is to process chargeable payroll on a daily basis and he/she doesn't do it, the ability to complete billing runs and invoice customers quickly is compromised . This can have a significant impact on the inflow of cash which can negatively impact the company's ability to function . If this employee is not held accountable for meeting this expectation, you are not doing your job as a manager and the company ultimately suffers as a result.
  • Accountability becomes part of the culture within an organization. It starts at the top and filters its way down. If there is a general lack of accountability within an organization, large or small, the organization is likely to under perform.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. How would you describe the level of accountability in your organization?

2. Has a lack of accountability led to performance or other problems in one or more areas of your business or work unit?

3. Is there an accountability component involved in your supervisor training program?

4. Do you or other managers struggle to hold employees accountable?

Accountability requires that a manager establish three things; 1) expectations , 2) measurement and 3) consequences. Let's look at all three in more detail:

Expectations

  • Expectations for employees must be reasonable and attainable . In trying to force accountability where the likelihood of meeting expectations is minimal, you and your employees will become frustrated.
  • Another word we could use in place of expectations would be outcomes . Before accountability can occur, the employee must have a crystal clear understanding of the expected outcomes to be derived by performing his/her job.
  • Ambiguity in the manager/subordinate relationship can lead to all sorts of performance related problems. When the employee is left to read a manager's mind or assume what and how much is to be accomplished, those assumptions generally don't match those of the manager.
  • What are expectations? In the manager/subordinate relationship, expectations are a set of rules, so to speak, as well as requirements. Here is a brief example of some possible expectations for a sales representative:

1. Make, on average, 40 face-to-face sales calls each week.

2. Follow up on all customer inquiries within 3 hours of receipt of the call.

3. Sell $1,200,000 in widgets next calendar year at an overall gross profit of 35%.

4. Develop a business relationship with a minimum of 10 new accounts during the next sales year.

  • These are but a few of the total expectations (rules or outcomes) that could be in place for a sales rep.
  • Expectations could also deal with progress reporting for the rep. A possible expectation could be as simple as; complete in full and submit by 8:00 a.m. each Monday morning call reports for the previous week.
  • This expectation is more a policy or rule, whereas number 3 above is really a goal for the rep . Individual goals such as number 3 above can become expectations that are mutually developed and agreed upon by the manager and employee.
  • Expectations can take the form of very short-term assignments . The manager could ask the rep to "provide to me in writing by this Friday at 5:00 p.m. a list of prospects for the new A100 widget along with projected orders by prospect". Assuming this is a reasonable request, it becomes an expectation for which the rep must be held accountable.
  • It is important to expect the employee to meet reasonable, but demanding expectations. It is not appropriate to overload employees to the point where they simply cannot deliver as expected. Expectations must be realistic AND attainable.

Measurement

  • The old adage "you get what you inspect, not what you expect" is certainly appropriate in developing a high accountability culture.
  • If employees sense that there is little or no monitoring or measurement to determine if the expectations were met and little or no follow up, the expectations will become just words.
  • When an expectation is established, it must be measurable in some manner. The results should be clear enough that measurement can be as simple as, "yes it was accomplished" or "no it wasn't accomplished" or it can be done by measuring numerical results against expected numerical results (outcomes).
  • If there is any vagueness in the expectations, it will be nearly impossible to hold employees accountable.
  • Let's take our example with regard to making face-to-face sales calls. Recall that the rep was expected to make 40 face-to-face sales calls each week. This can be measured by a simple review of call reports . But let's suppose the manager had set this expectation instead; " make a significant number of face-to-face sales calls each week". How could this be measured? What does significant mean? It might mean one thing to the manager, but something entirely different to the rep. It is simply impossible to measure this since the rep might consider 10 calls significant and the manager might consider nothing less than 40 to be significant. As a result, there is no basis for holding the rep accountable for this expectation.

Consequences

  • In order for the employee to feel compelled to meet expectations, there need to be consequences . Consequences can be positive or negative. Here's a brief example of this distinction:

Suppose that sales reps are awarded a $5,000 bonus if they hit their sales and gross profit targets (expectations). This incentive becomes a consequence of sorts. Obviously if the targets are not hit, no bonus is paid and that is a consequence. But there can be other consequences as well. Suppose a rep misses the target by, say, 15%. At the very least, the manager must meet with the rep to discuss the reasons for missing the target. And in other cases, especially when a rep has a history of not meeting expectations, there can be written warnings, suspension and even termination.

  • Again the key factors in consequences as a component of accountability are clarity and follow up . Your employees must understand that they will be expected to perform and they need to clearly understand what the consequences of not meeting expectations will be.
  • Do not ignore unmet expectations!

Summary

Building a high accountability culture is not a matter of "cracking the whip". It is simply a matter of enforcing rules, so to speak, in a positive, non-threatening manner. Don't "stick your head in the sand" and ignore employees who aren't meeting expectations. If you do, employees will lose respect for you and your credibility will diminish. Some managers find it difficult to be assertive enough to deal with unmet expectations. Supervisor training in assertiveness might be helpful in overcoming this difficulty. But, don't view instilling accountability as a police action. It is a normal and expected activity in high performing organizations.

Any supervisor training that your organization has in place or will put in place must include an emphasis on accountability and how to instill it within your business or work unit. Too often, supervisor training does not address the importance of accountability nor does it address the “mechanics” of accountability. Avoid implementing supervisor training that does not offer sound guidance and follow up in how to instill accountability and a high accountability culture.

The Managing People for High Performance self-study training manual is an excellent training tool that focuses on not only how to instill accountability, but many other important aspects of managing people. Click here to learn more about this widely used supervisor training resource.