Workforce Accountability

Workforce Accountability
Monday, August 6th, 2012 Scott Bossart

                A business will be limited to its success by the quality of its workforce to perform.  I see it often whereby there are a select few staff members that seem to excel at their positions and are willing to give 100% a majority if not all of the time.  But still there are others who just seem to get by with seemingly bare minimum accomplishments and just pull off assignments or even failures without corresponding action and there is not much in the way of extra accomplishments.  While every individual can be, not everyone will be an excelled performer within an organization.  The things that motivate people are typically different between individuals.  The bottom of the barrel in this discussion is those that blatantly state what they feel should be obvious to everyone…”That is not my job!”   This statement is the ultimate turn down when asking someone to do something out of the ordinary or a non-typical task assignment.  While this will typically force a business owner or leader to grind their teeth or even vow vengeance, the response is usually to go and ask someone who is often more than willing to serve any request.  It is typical for your supervisors and managers take the easy path of resistance for them to be successful but this does not build the necessary cultural foundation required for an agile and competitive business.  It will actually build a division and negative attitude in the cultural structure.

                What expectations are established for everyone in the organization?  What is reasonable to ask a person to complete during the course of his or her day, week, month, etc.?  I often see a lot of internal politics play out within and organization.  While for a short term, it may seem to work, but in the long run it ultimately undermines the cultural structure and routinely divides the organization.  It can greatly limit the ability of an organization to be agile and flexible to changing workloads, environments, and new business ventures.  Take a step back for a moment and monitor how supervisors and mid-level managers actually manage the people or teams.  I often see these folks attempt to utilize a computer system as opposed to actual hands on coaching, guidance, and face to face interactions.  The fear is to not make anyone personally mad or it could hurt the business or more specifically, the current task at hand.  If this is the current perception in your organization, it will be very important to work hard to change it.  That doesn’t mean to simply go through the change staff.  While I’m not a culture coach, I do know that any good culture building coach will tell you, the answer is not to simply fire and re-hire new people.  The issue is more about the environment they are in as opposed to them personally.  You need to establish the expectations for each role within the organization.  It is the expectation for each role that establishes the direction of the organization.  The person you put into a position for that role must have the knowledge and ultimately be qualified to perform within it.  This selection process, training process, and vetting process is very important for that functional role to be successful within the organization.  This is part of the need for a specialized Human Resource department or an outside specialized service.

Each role within the organization should be documented and detailed to their required levels and there should be roles covering the entire organization.  Once this is complete, consider the expected time allotted in a realistic manor for that role to be successful.  This will lead you to the number of positions required to fulfill those roles.  It is important to not tighten the position quantities with an attitude of over-stretching an individual beyond their capabilities.  I see it often where positions are eliminated and pieces are divided up amongst remaining staff with the logic that one small added task won’t greatly impact their workload.  The problem typically becomes the many “Little” tasks that tend to get added into a person’s role will accumulate to a level which force an individual to become partially successful in some or even many things and partial failures in others.  It is the total workload from both a time perspective and quality perspective which is very important to visit and re-visit from time to time to ensure your general workforce and leadership staffs are able to be successful.  This is not to say there is a need to cut back or add to.  I am encouraging a routine and periodic review to ensure the initial environment and assumptions are still valid and adjustments are made where required.

Establishing the role is the first step.  Determining how many positions within the role are required to successfully handle total workload is second but there is one more step; establishing the expectations for the role and potentially each position within that role.  This is the key to driving the desired cultural level within the organization and the direction for success setting the stage for opportunities of growth.  The one thing you need to continually tell yourself; “People will ultimately rise to the lowest level of expectation”.  Internal politics must be set aside and leadership within the organization must function with objectivity regarding the internal business relationships while focusing on the interconnectivity of the established roles.  The easiest way to achieve this is by establishing goals for each role and potentially each position.  In some cultural environments it is not practical, or desired, to establish goals for individuals, however, at the minimum there should be goals for the team or the collective role regardless of the number of individuals performing within them.  It is important to ensure each person fulfilling a position fully understands the expectations and the goals for the role they are performing within.  If there is not clear and concise communication of expectations and goals, the ambiguity surrounding the individual fulfilling the position will drive low performance and misguided expectations.

Lastly, quantitative measures must be in place to objectively determine performance levels.  There will still be individuals that will excel above and beyond others.  The ultimate goal of the business owner and organizational leader is to establish a baseline minimum for all individuals to perform at.  This is not to say, set a low bar and make it easy on everyone.  It is to say, establish a reasonable level plateau and hold every individual accountable towards rising at the least to that established plateau.  If done correctly, the organization will not have an issue improving efficiency and effectiveness, resulting in reduced costs.

Stay Well

Scott B.


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