The growth of so many organizations is slowed by the reluctance to hold team members accountable for producing results. We have to reframe the way we think about accountability and stop looking at it in such negative terms.
Accountability is a reflection of how important each team member is to your success.
Agencies struggle with accountability for two reasons. One, they fear it and only think of it in negative terms. Two, they aren’t sure how to create a healthy culture of accountability.
Removing the stigma
When you hear the word “accountability," what immediately comes to mind? Chances are you cringe a bit and start thinking about having difficult conversations and critiquing your team members. And that can be part of accountability. The ironic thing is, though, a culture of accountability prevents most of those types of conversations from being necessary.
Every role on your team is critically important; there are results you must get from each. If those results don’t happen, the team and the business suffer. If you don't hold the individuals filling those roles accountable for making necessary contributions, the message is that they, and their role, aren't that important.
Imagine if the leader sat five people down and asked four of them to discuss their progress toward their goals but didn't ask the fifth. I promise you that the fifth person would walk away feeling as if they weren't important and that their contributions didn't matter.
A healthier cadence
Perhaps people have such negative connotations associated with accountability because accountability is a step of last resort—it only happens once something has gone horribly wrong. Accountability should be part of regular and frequent conversations that take place among the team.
It isn’t about looking for reasons to criticize. It's about monitoring progress toward goals and ensuring each team member carries their weight. The opportunities to celebrate that progress then become more apparent for individuals and the collective team.
In an even marginally successful organization, accountability results in far more opportunities to celebrate than it does in criticism.
Believe it or not, your team, especially the highest performers, wants to be held accountable. They want to know that their efforts are important, recognized and celebrated.
See also: The Sharing Economy and Accountability
Building a foundation of healthy accountability
The steps to successfully introducing and maintaining a healthy culture of accountability aren't difficult to follow. Because agencies tend to hold their salespeople the least accountable of any team members, I will use that role in my examples where appropriate.
Define the key results you need to get from each role on your team. Fight the temptation to list all the results you may get; stay focused on the two or three that are most important.
Producer example — The key results would be to (one) write new business and to (two) retain current clients.
For each of the results identified in Step One, identify the primary behaviors necessary to produce results. Again, stay focused on the two or three most important behaviors.
Producer example — (using the new business example) For a producer to write new business, they must (one) regularly add new opportunities to their pipeline and then (two) efficiently and effectively close those opportunities.
Determine how to validate and quantify that the behaviors identified in Step Two are happening. These become the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each role.
Producer example — The KPIs for the goal of writing new business should be (one) the number of opportunities recently added and (two) the conversion and close rates of the opportunities already in the pipeline.
Nobody should be more vested or invested in the success of a position than the individual filling it. Provide your team with the tools to track their KPIs and give them the responsibility to track them. This act alone will usually improve results. The things we measure tend to improve.
Review those KPIs in regular one-on-one meetings. At a minimum, leaders should have monthly one-on-one meetings with each team member to review their KPIs. There will then be frequent opportunities to celebrate progress and, if results are lagging, a chance to correct the behaviors in a timely manner.
See also:Eliminating AI Bias in Insurance
It’s the right thing to do
In an organization that has avoided accountability, getting started may be a bit uncomfortable. But, for the benefit of the business and especially for each individual depending on the business, it’s the right thing to do.
If you deal with the initial discomfort of accountability, you'll likely never have to deal with the pain of missing your goals.
Download the Producer Planning guide for an outline of the KPI tracking plan.