Instructor Tip: Expectations & Accountability
What does accountability look like in your organization? Are you providing candidates with your expectations in the form of a job description when they interview for a position with your company? Or are you relying on memory to discuss the position that is open? Do you provide written materials that outline for your employees what the company’s expectations are? Or do you just make assumptions because they really ought to know by now? Do you discuss quality and quantity and what is acceptable? Do you talk about your expectations for attitude, customer service, and courtesy? Or do you leave the “soft stuff” discussions to someone else?
It’s easy to hold employees accountable when they’re doing whatever they’re supposed to be doing right. It’s more difficult when they’re doing it wrong. Knowing a few tricks will help you to provide meaningful feedback, whether it’s of the positive or negative variety.
If we don’t tell employees what is important to us, to our organizations, we can’t expect to hold them accountable. Tell employees what they’re doing right. Tell them what they’re doing wrong and help them understand the difference. Talk about job-related behaviors and provide ongoing feedback. Don’t wait until the annual performance evaluation takes place in December to talk about something that happened in JUNE. Talk about THAT in JUNE. When you provide feedback immediately, you provide an opportunity for the employee to meet your expectations. Consistently hold employees accountable so that there are no surprises at the end of the year.
Practice in front of a mirror, particularly if the feedback you plan on delivering is negative. You don’t need to memorize what you plan to say but you should rehearse it so you’re comfortable with the concepts you plan to discuss. And don’t hesitate to bring notes with you—talking points—so you don’t forget anything.
Be descriptive. Don’t speak in vague generalities. Speak clearly and decisively about performance expectations and the behavior that is or is not occurring.
Resist using labels. Just like when you told your kids, no name calling and we don’t use the word stupid in this house. Yeah. Just like that.
Avoid exaggerations. If the behavior has only happened once (and to be effective, your feedback should occur after the behavior happened only once), then don’t accuse the employees of doing this a zillion times.
Refrain from judgment. You don’t need to judge why something is or is not occurring. You need to point out what the expectation is and what you are holding the employee accountable to. Period. Without a judgment call.
Speak only for yourself. Your credibility will plummet the moment you say and Bob agrees with me when Bob is questioned and doesn’t know what the employee is talking about. You should be credible enough by yourself.
Restrict your feedback to things you are certain of and keep your opinion to yourself. This isn’t a time to talk about you. It’s a time to hold the employee accountable to your organization’s expectations.
Expectations and Accountability. New words for managers.
November 2012 Instructor Tip: Deb Whitworth
Deb Whitworth, SPHR, Senior Associate at Mercer, Inc., brings over 30 years of human resources management experience with her as she consults with for-profit and non-profit organizations. Deb guides clients through compliance issues, comprehensive human resources audits, and advises on all other HR topics as well. The SHRM Maine State Council named her the 2012 HR Leader of the year.
Deb’s upcoming courses include: