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How Responsible Leaders Create Accountability and High Performing Work Environments
When you need a high level of performance from every team member, you also need a truly effective culture of accountability and smart leadership.
Creating such a culture ensures that everyone works in synch and truly understands the ultimate objective of your organisation. This may require a change in leadership styles and goals, but the transition yields worthwhile results.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Devise a Strategy
When you’re implementing changes to improve call center performance, you need an action plan. Most effective changes are implemented over time with changes introduced incrementally, but what’s the most efficient way to accomplish your performance goals?
Think about these questions:
- How will you address each priority?
- What are your improvement priorities?
- How will you alert and prepare your team?
- Do you need to provide training for your new system?
- How long do you expect it to take to reach your performance goals?
- Do you foresee any obstructions or issues with implementing your new system or with your goals? If so, how will you deal with them?
When devising this plan, a smart leader will start to take note of which team members are accountable for specific aspects of the strategy. Play to your team members’ strengths, but also recognize their weaknesses: doing so brings balance and truly allows your team to fulfil its true potential.
Additionally, it’s also a good idea to ask for employee input. The success of the strategy hinges on their efforts and participation, so your team might as well have a say in how the plan is designed. You never know what good ideas they may bring to the table.
See Understanding Group Roles for more information.
2. Be the Poster Child
During times of change in the work environment, your team will look to you and the rest of their leadership for not only guidance, but also an example of what is expected of them.
In this way, leadership accountability is a crucial first step both initially and through the implementation of your new performance plan.
Your leadership team should utilize their actions to provide a model of general expectations for your team. The paperwork and training sessions are still a part of this process, but your leadership team sets the foundation with their behavior.
Besides showing your team how your new plan is to be implemented, leading by example also gives you the opportunity to identify and resolve potential issues before they lead to future problems, setbacks and missed opportunities.
3. Effectively Communicate Your Company Goals
Now is the time for manuals, training sessions, meetings and PowerPoint presentations.
You’ll need give your employees information such as:
- What are the pillars of your new performance model?
- What is the vision for the company’s future?
- How are long- and short-term goals set?
- What is the timeline?
- What are the similarities and differences between the old and new systems?
This is also the stage where you’ll want to let your team know if and how their positions, level of accountability or job descriptions will change.
Truly effective and smart leadership involves making sure employees are clear on their roles in the company and how they’re expected to fill those roles.
Give your team time to look over and familiarize themselves with their new responsibilities, and let them know they can come to you if there’s ever any confusion, or if they have questions. Leaving the lines of communication open and intact is vital to maximizing performance.
However, clear and effective communication isn’t just necessary for the beginning of the implementation process. It’s crucial to every effective performance model, meaning this task is never done.
4. Set Clear Individual Expectations
Next, you’ll need to set clear expectations on a macro level down to the interns. Set clear and realistic expectations for every employment level of your business. Your team will always perform better when they know exactly what is expected of each member.
The key to setting realistic expectations is to first decide what your vision of success looks like. Doing so lets you know where you and the rest of your team need to aim and can eliminate unnecessary steps on the road to victory.
An accountable leader also provides team members with context for their new roles.
Don’t just tell employees what their individual expectations are, let them know why you decided on those specific expectations.
This context gives employees a frame of reference and can become a compass they can use to get them back on track should they ever feel lost while the new strategy is in motion.
5. Have Clear Accountability Measures
Rumour has it traditional performance reviews just don’t get the whole picture.
They are incredibly subjective as various managers use different standards.
It’s important to establish clear qualifications for a “good” or “poor” performance that can be supported with more objective data. Then, you have to communicate the rubric to your team.
Once you’ve decided on your measures of performance accountability, inform your team of the consequences of both good and bad performance. Rewards make for great motivation and show your employees you appreciate them and their hard work. Alternatively, repercussions also make for a great motivator and let your team know just how serious you are about meeting your goals. With both extremes, make sure your rubric is fair and easily understandable.
6. Use Meetings Wisely
A smart leader knows when to send an email and when to break up the workday with meetings.
A team assembly can be incredibly effective as a means of monitoring progress, communicating important updates and fostering a sense of community. No matter how you utilize meetings, you’ll want to plan them in advance rather than take an “off the cuff” approach in order to maximize time and keep your employees and the rest of the leadership team fully engaged and emotionally invested.
For the best chance of success, it’s best to have meetings at least once a month to give everyone a chance to check in and to see how your team’s progress is going. You can have these monthly meetings on the same day at the same time to keep things regular, doing your best not to cancel meetings if you don’t absolutely have to. During meetings you can discuss the progress you’ve made in your performance strategy, any changes that need to be implemented and the next goals everyone should look forward to.
Make sure each minute is well spent in order that your team doesn’t have to take home extra work because they weren’t allowed enough work time. Use your best judgment on the duration and specific subject matter of your monthly meetings.
During your next leadership meeting, start drafting possible ways to address your performance goals and team concerns. Moving forward, focus on creating a culture of accountability that truly allows your company and your employees to prosper.
About the Author
Matt Rocco is the President and Chief Operating Officer for Etech Global Services.
Matt is a 31 year veteran of the call center / BPO industry. He has held key leadership positions within Dun & Bradstreet, The Berry Company (a subsidiary of Bell South), Etech Global Services. Matt has spoken at many industry events and has been featured in articles in numerous periodicals including CIO Review, Call Center Magazine, Call Center Times, Connections Magazines and others. On twitter: @EtechGS.