Keep your team accountable without micromanaging

Management, or what most businesses think of as management, is hard. If it were easy, I wouldn’t have started a business coaching firm that addresses it. Inspiring your team, making clients happy and ensuring the work gets done takes time, patience and a lot of intention.

That last point can be an especially slippery slope because accountability often gets confused with micromanagement. Over and over I get asked “How do I hold people accountable without them feeling like I’m micromanaging?”

The first thing you must do is define what each is. Accountability is wrapped up entirely in expectations — the results you are expected to produce. On the other hand, micromanagement is oversight by hovering over the entire process.

The key word is hovering because, of course, it’s important to keep the pulse of a project and ensure what needs to get done gets done. However, you don’t need to have a hand in every detail of the process. If you’ve hired great people, step back and let them do the job you pay them to do.

Here are three ways to create accountability in your organization the right way.

1.Set expectations. You may be surprised to hear that 90+ percent of the businesses that hire us to coach their teams do not have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Before you say that your business doesn’t fall into this category, see if you can quantitatively answer what your company’s expectations are. Can you tell on any given day or week if you’ve had a good day or week based on metrics? If the answer is no, then you are not clear on your expectations.

Every person in every position needs a set of critical numbers and outcomes that they are 100 percent clear on and accountable for. Additionally, they need a set of at least three leading indicators or key performance indicators that they can measure. This will help everyone to regularly achieve results.

2. Keep score. A sports team can see where they are in relation to where they want to be at any point during the game. Your business should be no different. It’s important to inspect progress. You and your team members all need to know, in as real time as possible, how they are progressing. Are they on track, risky or simply not putting any effort into achieving the result?

Success is a result of small activities consistently executed over a period of time. Giving everyone the ability to see where they are winning and losing provides insight into what needs to happen now in order to achieve the desired outcome.

3.Don’t put up with mediocrity. Most sports teams are run better than businesses. When someone on a sports team is not performing, they are replaced quickly with someone that will. Or, they get sent to the bench, back to the minors for more training or simply get released.

Most businesses hang on to people far too long. Putting up with mediocrity in your business is the worst accountability killer there is. If you let people coast, why would anyone feel like they need to truly perform? Worse, performers don’t want to be around others that are not performers. You have to create a sense of urgency and stick to your commitments or others never will.

This article originally appeared on the Tennessean