In the third and final part of his ‘Stop Doing’ series, business strategist Matt Malouf explains the importance of accountability and reporting in the health of a business.
Reporting and accountability are essential for you to understand what is going on in your business and ensure tasks are getting done at the correct time and to the standard you expect. Regardless of the size of your business, having your team report to you regularly will be a great measure of their productivity and will inevitably improve yours.
Now, don’t stress and think that the reporting I’m talking about is going to be more work. In fact, reporting will be a vehicle that will allow you to:
- Motivate your team members to make regular, measurable progress.
- Answer any questions or be clear on where your team needs your assistance.
- Invite your team to provide suggestions and give feedback on what is working and not working.
Without an effective reporting process in place it is quite challenging to understand if your team is doing a good job and moving in the right direction. This then leads to many unnecessary conversations and emails so you can understand what is going on. This takes a lot of time and can be quite frustrating. You may feel out of control and uneasy instead of feeling in control and clear about what is going on in your business each day.
A good reporting rhythm is essential. I recommend three key reports — daily, weekly and monthly — to provide you with clarity about what each person is doing and responsible for, along with confidence that these tasks are getting done when you need them to be done.
The daily report is designed to give you an understanding of what your team member has achieved during that day. The report answers three questions:
- What did you accomplish today?
- Did you achieve everything that was scheduled to be completed today? (If no, please list what wasn’t completed and why it wasn’t completed.)
- Is there anything you need help with or do you have any questions?
These questions are designed to keep your people focused on the specific tasks that have been assigned to them and ensure they are performing their assigned tasks in a timely fashion.
It also allows for open dialogue on a daily basis to ensure that tasks and projects are moving forward and aren’t delayed because of you.
The weekly report is designed to be a summary of the week’s activities. Each person needs to report on the success or failure of achieving their key responsibilities and report to you their weekly KPIs. This report will also include answers to the following questions:
- What was your brightest moment of the week?
- What was your biggest challenge of the week?
- What did you learn in the last week?
- Based on the week gone by I believe we should STOP DOING…
- Based on the week gone by I believe we should START DOING…
- I need your help with…
This report will form a good part of the agenda for your weekly meeting you have with your team. The report is designed to allow you to gauge how each person is feeling throughout their work week, together with giving you valuable feedback and ideas on how to continue to grow and develop your business.
The monthly report is designed to be a mini 360-degree assessment of the person’s performance. The team member will list each task that has been assigned to them, the frequency of the task and the importance of the task. They will then list the date they were trained in the task and who trained them. The person completing the report will then give themselves a score out of 10 on their ability to complete the task with 100 per cent confidence and trust.
This report will then be submitted to the team member’s direct manager (this may be you or somebody else) for them to assess. Once the assessment is complete it is essential that a meeting occur to discuss the assessment score variances and how these will be rectified. This will often involve retraining or further system development.
Accountability often gets confused with someone taking the blame for something. This is not what we are talking about here. Accountability is in my opinion about delivering on a commitment. It’s being answerable or responsible to someone for something. It is essential to your ability to stop doing the tasks on your list that someone becomes accountable for the task or activity.
In order to achieve this it is essential to implement the following five steps:
- Set clear expectations. Your people can only be accountable to the level to which they understand what is expected of them. Hence it is important to be clear about the outcome you desire, the time frame you require this to be completed, and whether you require them to follow a specific system to achieve the outcome or they can choose their own adventure.
- Arm them with the tools of success. Make sure your people are trained and have all the tools they require to achieve the desired outcome; otherwise you are setting them up to fail.
- Create a simple scoreboard of performance. While you may discuss the specific outcome you desire, it is important to establish some milestone check-ins and progress reports to enable you and the person performing the task or project to clearly understand whether they are ‘winning’.
Conduct constructive feedback sessions. Open, honest and constructive feedback is essential to ensure your people understand how they are performing. This is made easier by implementing steps 1 to 3. This will at times require some tough conversations, but remember the only way for your people to get better is for them to understand what they need to improve.
- Establish clear rewards and consequences. Most accountability is ineffective because there are no clear rewards or consequences for following through on what you said you were going to do. If a person has succeeded then they should be rewarded in some way. This could be a simple as acknowledging their achievement, or if they prove themselves over time it may lead to a promotion. If they have not followed through and delivered on their commitment, and you feel confident you have set them up to succeed, then you might need to consider assigning the task or activity to someone else or perhaps even moving the person on.
While this may seem simple to follow and execute, this simple five-step process is often neglected. Please take the time to understand and implement this — you will be amazed at how quickly you see a positive return.
Edited extract from The Stop Doing List (Wiley $27.95) by business strategist Matt Malouf, now available where all good books are sold. For more information on Matt Malouf visit www.mattmalouf.com.au