This past 4 months, I have been working part-time as a sales associate as a team member. I have observed some stuff that my team and the other teams don’t do very well within the overall store. Accountability! I can hear the excuses already. These are minimum wage jobs and people just don’t care. They work part-time – why would they care.
As a manager, trainer and student of leadership – I just get frustrated when the work from the management team is missing the boat with the people under them. As managers and leaders – we owe it to the team, the company and ourselves to build a strong and effective organization that does it’s best every time.
Here are some tips to help get your team to embrace accountability:
- Focus on creating a shared purpose. It does not matter what and where you work – you are a team. You should be developing shared and communicated goals to the entire team. Discussing it with just one or two folks – does not get everyone involved. As their leader you need to: Align your team to their purpose and goals. Insure to provide clarity in the importance of achieving those goals. Engage the team by actively answering their questions. Define together the teams general operating principles.
- Be open and specific about expected results. It is extremely hard to be accountable if you don’t know what is expected. Giving out indicator results that don’t help provide clarity to the team – just are numbers. For some folks this works, but for the whole team – you need to be specific to help provide the clarity to all. As the leader you need to: Be clear what is expected from each team member. You need to make sure that you involve each team member in stimulating the discussion on what is each team members contribution and how each team member can do better. Clarify the expected goals and results to insure that each team member can share with others.
- Play close attention to the team when times get tough. Just about everything looks good when things are going well. When times get tough, like reduced hours, missed goals, team turnover or poor attendance – the real work begins. Take time to make sure that you talk to each team member to understand what is happening. Listen to them talking to each other – you will be shocked at what you can learn. As the leader you need to: Show the team actively that the teams success matters to you. Give priority to becoming a stronger team. Reduce pressure by making sure to communicate that it is “ok” to make mistakes but that we need to learn from them. Put in place ways that the team can communicate with each other to help with building that stronger team.
- Set the example – first. You want accountability – you better be the showing what that looks like. I have seen too many new managers take the approach of doing what I say, rather than what I do. Words are okay, but actions do speak better. If you mess up – say so. If someone else messes up – talk to them.
It may sound simple. It does take some work. If you are lucky enough to have your team 100% present together – you have a better choice. You can set up time to have everyone together to discuss and communicate. You can get out and spend more time with each team member to help understand what is happening. You can see the improvements quicker.
If you team is spread out, different locations, different hours, or just all part-timers – well you have a much tougher task. It is not impossible. It will require more work and different processes to make sure that everyone understands what is happening. As the manager you will need to insure that you have a communication process in place that everyone can understand what is going on when they are not there. A passdown book, email threads, team notes or whatever will work with your team to help them understand what is going on. Expecting the team members to completely remember and verbally passdown to someone that they see for a few minutes – is asking too much. Add that they may not see everyone on the team – well, no communication will happen. Start working on communication and I bet you will see some improvements, quickly. Then start on accountability.
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