Accountability is a fundamental key to any businesses success.

In business we want accountability. We want responsible, successful people to work for us. We want staff to come ready-made to already be achieving awesomeness… But most often it takes a lot of consistency and work. Responsibility is the ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization. Accountability is accepting ownership over those decisions regardless of the outcome. Whether a win or loss, growth or stagnation, real acceptance of whatever the outcome is.

My wife and I were having coffee together in my office today, and one of my employees walks by the office, cell phone in hand. And, my wife asks me, “As a manager, don’t you sometimes hard to not micro-manage your employees?” I didn’t even have to think. My answer was a resounding, “NO.”

I used to be a micro-manager. I managed teenagers in at their first part-time jobs at one time in my life. And as a father now, sometimes I have flashbacks of needing to integrate myself into every decision, every piece of homework, and every teacher conversation. But… for my own kids to see real growth, and develop their own sense of communication and self-advocacy, I have to take a step back.

It’s the same in business. Any business.

One of the fundamental differences in leadership versus management is this:

Leaders, give their people the goal and let them run towards it. It doesn’t have to be a straight line, they allow their people to grow along the journey. Managers give their people the map and are more focused on the path. And, they insist that their people follow it exactly, regardless of where the goal is. Managers are more worried about HOW they get there… rather than, THAT, they get there.

So in response to my wife’s question… well first some background, if you are reading this and don’t know, I currently operate inside an Automotive Business Development Center (BDC), I’ve been in automotive dealership management for over 15 years. A productive BDC is managed heavily on stats and percentages. If one of your company stats is just slightly off, you can drill down in that area and rather quickly find out what is broken, or where something is being missed. Then you adjust and fix it.

The answer as an easy, “NO,” to my wife’s question, because my team is prepared for what they have to do each day. Preparation is the mother of victory! We are only seeking victory and excellence one day at a time!

So here are a few things that her (my wife) and I discussed that help to create my team’s accountability.

  1. We have good people working here. We all know someone we would define as a good-natured individual. It starts with the hiring. Hire people that are good natured. You will never be able to get continued performance out of someone that is a jerk. (simple) 
  2. They have clearly defined goals. Every one of my BDR’s knows what they need to do each day. Number of outbound calls, number of connections, number of appointments set, number of shown appointments, texts, emails, sold units, and so much more in between. While this may seem like micro-managing, it isn’t – it’s total clarity. There are a lot of other gauges that we measure and discuss, but every one of these teammates knows what they must accomplish.
  3. There are consequences for not hitting goals. If they don’t do what they are supposed to, there are negative consequences. Simple isn’t it? It’s not just another day at the office and, “no big deal.” Staying late, write-ups, peer accountability or termination. We talk about it when someone misses their target. First, it acknowledges that everyone knows. Secondly, it creates more pressure to perform and create the desired outcome in the future.
  4. The success of the team is as important as that of the individual. Throughout each day, my team is constantly holding one another accountable, asking where they are, what can they do, are they going to hit the goal? When your team’s success becomes as valuable to each of them as individual wins, then it makes a managers/leaders job far easier!
  5. We have fun. People that love their work and enjoy themselves while they are at work will accomplish more. To me, if it is, “all business, all the time” it becomes stuffy and boring, and dead. When that happens, people don’t want to stay and hang out in a “morgue.” People that are having fun will stay later, work harder, and be a more positive impact on their peers to do the same.
  6. They know that their leader cares about them as a person as much as a colleague. Learn about the person. I believe it is important to know the individual, what is important to them, why do they do what they do? When you can learn about someone on a personal level, you can provide a much more personalized experience for each of your employees and your work environment will thrive. You must learn to coach each individual as an individual… and then also coach the group as a team. This style of coaching wins championships! (Vince Lombardi)

Then, when the team has accountability, they are ALL your sidekick!

It can be easy to do these things. Consistency: just do them EVERY… SINGLE… DAY, even when you don’t want to. In fact, the biggest single lesson for me as a leader – don’t sacrifice your standards or your values. When you hold yourself accountable to start with finding good people, training every day, making sure you are hitting your goals, having fun with your staff, and everything else listed above. That is when your department, store or business will really start to thrive.

And, every once in a while, slow down, have a cup of coffee and reflect… that one cup of coffee can sometimes bring a whole lot of clarity.