Pain-Free Employee Accountability in Six Easy Steps

Jun 9, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

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Do you worry that your employees will quit if you confront them about a problem or if you truly hold them accountable?  Maybe they won’t quit, but if they feel fussed at they will have a bad attitude or lose motivation?  Does accountability help or hurt?

Many small business owners are nervous about holding their employees accountable because they can’t afford a hole in their team.  As long as the employee does more good than bad, the owner wants to avoid conflict and keep things moving forward.

I understand.

After all, when you only have 3-4 employees, one loss wipes out 25-30% of your help.  And, yes, hiring a replacement can take time and it will require your personal attention to do it.

Lack of Accountability Makes Performance Worse

But the reality of the situation is that if you do not hold people accountable along the way, it is inevitable that the bad will one day over take the good.  There are many reasons why:

  • Bad habits form if they are not caught at the beginning and then it is much more difficult to change.
  • Poor performance expands – Poor work habits or performance can bleed into other work habits, or worse, bleed over to other employees.
  • Miscommunication takes over –  Lack of addressing the issues builds up a communication wall between you and your employee. Miscommunication continues.  The rest of the team may feel it also.
  • Disengagement sets in – Employees who are not challenged to improve and are not developed will lose motivation and become disengaged.

Even if it is difficult, it is important as a Christian business leader to learn how to hold people accountable.  You can get good at this.  You are right that you could make things worse if you don’t have a plan to communicate about performance and accountability in a positive way.  This is essential.

The way that relationships, and the situation, become worse is by staying reactive.

6 Steps To Ensure Positive Accountability In Your Team

The important first step to improving accountability without losing your team is to move to a proactive approach.

Here are several tips that will help:

  • Set up an employee performance management system that all employees know about and expect from day one of their employment.  This will include a job description, a performance evaluation template, and a calendar of when performance communication will occur.  For new employees you shouldn’t wait a whole year to review performance.
  • Set your expectations up upon hire, so that understanding about performance and behaviors is clear.  If people actually know that being late is a problem, they are less likely to start.  If you wait until they have been late for two months they will look at you like you have horns when you finally blow up at them in month three.  (I know it is crazy that they would actually say something like “I didn’t know it was a problem, you never said anything before”.  Trust me it will happen.)
  • Hold yourself accountable for holding them accountable.  Start day one looking for ways to reinforce both good performance and problems.  If you tell them from the get go both the positive and the negative it will not become such a personal attack in their minds when you have an issue.  They will know you communicate regularly to get ahead of any long-term problems.
  • Always be respectful even if the performance is below par.  They are equally human and valuable in God’s eyes.  And in their spouse’s, children, etc.  You may be their boss, but they still deserve respect and considerate communication.  The best way to ensure this is to communicate regularly and not let things build up until you blow up or ignore the employee.  Ignoring can be equally as damaging.
  • Care about your team.  If your employee knows you care, they are more likely to share issues with you openly so you can help them to resolve them if possible.  I don’t think you can fake caring though, so you need to communicate and interact with your employees so that you actually do care about them.
  • Understand what caring and loving others means in God’s view.  Some of you care too much.  Or that is the feeling that keeps you from wanting to confront or discipline your team.  But it is scriptural that God disciplines His children because He loves them.  If we care about the person, we want them to do well and everyone needs feedback and structure to perform at their best.

If you haven’t started out with your team this way, you can still do all of these things.   You just have to be open and explain that you are putting these pieces in place to help everyone and to enhance the company’s performance as you grow.  Having these processes in place will help us grow and it will also provide opportunities for advancement to those who are growing and developing with the company.

Sometimes Turnover Is Necessary

If you have a truly problem employee, you may indeed lose them.  Start recruiting now for the inevitable.   You owe it to the other team members to not have a long-term hole, but you also need to provide them with reliable teammates that carry their weight.

The time it will take from you to find a good employee, and to start implementing this concept, is less time than it will take to turn around your business when you get stuck and cannot grow anymore.

Without Team Accountability Your Business Get’s Stuck

Getting stuck is exactly what happens when the owner is doing all of the work and not holding employees accountable for the work they are being paid to do.

Do you have one or more problems that you are avoiding addressing?  Do you need help figuring out how to find the time to implement these ideas?  Do you need help developing the processes?

We can help you.

  • We can have a one-time coaching call and help you plan out a difficult communication.
  • We can be an outsourced resource for you to develop your job descriptions and performance review templates.
  • We may even be able to help you hire strong employees that match your needs and the culture of your team.

If you need some help, please let us know here.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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