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Expectations + Accountability: Engagement Series

Peanut butter and jelly. Smoke and fire. Coffee and donuts. They all go together. The same thing goes for Expectations and Accountability. In our efforts to build and drive team engagement, much of the work begins by establishing formal methods for what we expect our team members to do and produce, and with that comes a formal process of measuring their efforts and outcomes while providing consistent rewards and consequences.

Let’s start with setting clear expectations. Without them, your teams may flounder or work on unimportant things related to the larger, more important objectives. Look to your top performers for examples here. Likely, they are already doing and producing much of what you desire. Winning leaders are crystal clear with expectations and communicate them with outstanding clarity so everyone knows, understands, and believes in them.

They lay out their Expectations with these things in mind…

  • Define Results Expectations: “What I expect you to deliver is…” This is the first piece of the puzzle. What do you want to achieve? Be clear on this with your team. Test it to ensure it is possible and document what was done to get you there. You will need it for the next step.

  • Define Behavioral Expectations: “What I expect you to do is…” These are the behaviors that equal the Results Expectations you set. When executed, they must produce them, and they must be measurable. Be ultra clear on these specific things you will expect to see being performed by your team members. Avoid any grey areas here; you will see a dramatic improvement in execution.

Now that they know what Behavioral Expectation and Result Expectation components are set for them, your team members will know what you are asking them to do. As a result, you won’t need to micromanage their behaviors but instead look at their results as evidence of what they’re doing each week.

And this is where your formal methods of accountability come into play. Building out a structured method to monitor, report, recognize, and coach results gives you a streamlined approach that your team can count on and engage with as they pursue their goals.

Here are some things you can do to create a Rhythm of Accountability

  • Develop Exception Reporting Rhythm: Build a metric-focused reporting method for monitoring production that documents the exceptions of the top and bottom performers' results and publish it regularly for the team to view.

  • Create Recognition Rhythm: Using the information you gathered on your Exception Reporting, establish a leadership rhythm for celebrating wins and highlighting the efforts of those who contributed to them. Remember, "We are what we celebrate," so make winning a big deal on your team.

  • Establish Coaching/Mentoring Rhythm: Once again, using the information from your Exception Reporting, take action to move the bottom performers up on the scorecard. This predictable process should be designed for individuals, not the group as a whole, through either a mentoring program of certified mentors or delivered directly from you. You own their results, just as you own those of the top performers, and the desired outcome of these coaching sessions should be for the individual to improve their performance and move your overall results further toward your objectives.

Ensuring your team understands what they need to do and what the outcome of their efforts will need to be, establishes the foundation for the execution of their roles. It clarifies everything, removing any fog of confusion and allowing them to connect with their job at a much higher level. This minimizes workplace stress, fear, and anxiety and creates a culture of high standards, pride, and ultimately... engagement.


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