Hold Your Team Accountable: Here’s How

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What keeps you up at night?

If you’re like 98% of the CEOs I work with your answer will be accountability: how to get it and increase it.

Want to double your revenue or net income this year? Get more passionate high performing teams? Get predictable revenue?

Raise the bar on accountability. Here’s how.

What Will Move The Needle For You?

What are the three results that will make the greatest difference for you this year? Maybe you want to: generate more sales leads, close more sales, train up your team to be self-managed.

A Needle Mover is a given result that will have a significant impact on the success of your business. Usually these are people, money, or business model-oriented. You’ll set a target (what you want), minimum (worst case scenario) and mind blower (what will rock your world) for each Needle Mover. Once you set your Needle Movers and follow a plan to achieve them you’ll see daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual results. Tangible results will increase your momentum.

You will have annual Needle Movers plus monthly and quarterly ones to help you achieve your annual ones. Ultimately all team members will have them too, and report on progress weekly. Let’s look at an example.

How to Rock Steve’s World

Steve has a consumer retail product that he sells directly from his web site, through hotels and gift shops. His revenue has been a steady $33mil per year, but last year it dipped down to $31mil. He wants to reach $35mil this year and then maintain 40% growth annually. To get this growth he’ll need to raise the bar on accountability.

Here are Steve’s annual needle movers:

1)    $35mil in revenue (Target: $35mil, Min: $32mil, MB: $40mil+)

2)    Weekends off (Target: 75% off, Min: 50% off, MB: ALL weekends off for the year)

3)    Cut costs by 20% (Target: 20%, Min: 15%, MB: 25%+)

Now he must drill down on how exactly he will achieve these Needle Movers. Otherwise he may as well just set goals—which often are simply vague, unaccountable desires.

Here are Steve’s drill downs on his annual Needle Movers:

1)    For $35mil in Revenue he’ll add 20+ new retail channels, increase online sales by 20%+, recruit 5 new pay for performance sales people, forge alliances with 10+ companies with complementary products for bi-directional web sales, add coverage in 15+ additional catalogs.

2)    For Weekends Off he’ll train up his team to be self-managed, delegate more to his office manager, determine what he can defer and ditch entirely. Needle Movers for each team member will help here.

3)    To Cut Costs by 20% he’ll work new terms with his existing or find new manufacturing sources, streamline internal processes and offering clients an online self-serve helpdesk, use SOPs across all departments.

Now that Steve understands some of how his annual Needle Movers will happen, he can dive into laying out monthly Needle Movers to track his progress. See how the process starts this way? First you determine what results will dramatically change your business and life. Then you list what some ideas are to achieve each result.

Drilling Down Into Details

As you start to drill down on your needle movers you start understanding how to distribute the work over the coming months, and across your various team members.

So let’s go a step further with Steve… because certain things need to happen for him to achieve his annual needle movers.

For $35mil in Revenue he may want to re-order what he wants to achieve when, since some results will depend on others. He may need to achieve them in this order:

In the first month he may want to: recruit 5 new pay for performance sales people so he can add 20+ new retail channels, then in the second month he can: forge alliances with 10+ companies with complementary products for bi-directional web sales and 15+ additional catalogs which will lead to his result of increasing online sales by 20%+ through the year. And yes—he needs to quantify what amount of revenue he wants from his various channels: online sales, alliances, direct/telephone sales.

For Weekends Off in the first month he’ll want to look at what he can delegate, defer until later, or ultimately ditch—decide to not do at all. Then in month 1 or 2 he can delegate more to his office manager (hopefully most of current weekend workload) and next he can tackle training up his team to be self-managed, which will take between 3 and 6 months, depending on how accountable and self-managed his team currently is.

To Cut Costs by 20% in the first month he could start with working on new terms with existing or find new manufacturing sources, Then/or in parallel if his office manager does this he could start to: use SOPs (standard operating procedures) across all departments which will lead to streamlining internal processes and offering clients an online self-serve helpdesk which will happen within 3 months or so. SOPS, standard operating procedures, take time to write, but as you explain and document what steps are necessary to process an order, put on an event, whatever your business does, you’ll find you operate far more efficiently and quality/consistency of work will increase.

See how key it is to have specific and measurable needle movers? And see how you can have annual, quarterly, monthly needle movers?

Bring it to Your Team

Once you have the company needle movers set you’ll want to enroll your department heads to lay out their needle movers to support the company’s.Next each individual will lay out their needle movers to support their department’s. We start at the annual needle movers, drill down to quarterly and then on to monthly.

As a result your team knows what to do, when, why. Everyone now knows how they contribute to the company overall, and gone is the feeling of being an inconsequential cog in the wheel.

And the best part? Now you can sleep at night—since you know what key results you are driving toward and how you’ll achieve them. Click here to download our Needle Mover Template from the Operational Efficiency section of our resource page.

What do you need to increase accountability at your company? I’d love to know.

Follow me on Twitter @comaford and visit my web site to become a better leader.

Accountability Begins at the Top

How effective leadership is key in establishing accountability

The last two posts discussed the importance of defining Needle Movers and breaking Needle Movers down into specific actions to bring about desired results. So why is this important? Defining your needle movers is important to establishing accountability in business which is an important aspect of its success. In turn, accountability is key in empowering your employees to become high performers, to demonstrate initiative, and to support the goals of the organization. When a climate of accountability exists, the company’s operations work more effectively and efficiently; and when it is absent, procedures begin to fail and policies are ignored.

What is Accountability?

There are various definitions for accountability. Essentially, most definitions incorporate the idea of personal responsibility to obtain desired results. The notion of accountability evokes both positive and negative reactions from people because it is often synonymous with responsibility, and in many cases blame and guilt. Sometimes there is resistance to being held accountable because of the negative feelings that can sometimes associated with it.

Accountability and Leadership

Accountability begins at the top.  Successful leaders have a clear vision for their organization.  As a result, their actions are focused on making that vision a reality.  This is why clearly defining your Needle Movers are important. Leaders serve as a model for the employees within their organization.  As a result, they should be held to the same standards that they expect of their employees.  In addition, it is essential for leaders to clearly communicate their expectations to their employees.  Clear communication and “practicing what you preach” are influential in employees following in the footsteps of their leaders.

One of the reasons why companies fail is due to the inability of leadership to establish and enforce accountability.  When your employees are not held accountable for their behavior, they will often lower their performance just to barely meet expectations. As a result, it is key to reinforce positive behaviors through positive feedback or rewards and inappropriate behavior with coaching or discipline.  When this is done appropriately and consistently, it creates a climate of accountability and performance will inevitably increase.

The bottom line is that it is imperative for executives to create and implement an accountability system.  Having a system in place that is consistently practiced by people at all levels will help the company move towards its vision and ultimately its success.

Contact Christine Comaford, The Executive Coach today for help with your business needs.

Defining Your Needle Movers-Part Two

Once you have defined your Needle Movers, you have to take them further by outlining how you will exactly achieve them.  Otherwise, you may have just set goals which tend to simply be vague, unaccountable desires.

You may want to begin by setting some annual Needle Movers.  Once set, then you can lay out your monthly Needle Movers to track your progress. See how the process starts this way? First you determine what RESULTS will dramatically change your business and life. Then you list what some ideas are to achieve each result.

Drilling Down Into Details

As you start to drill down on your Needle Movers you start understanding how to distribute the work over the coming months, and across your various team members.

Here’s a template to use to identify and track your needle moving RESULTS. Grab a piece of paper and place it lengthwise (or in “landscape” mode if you’re on a PC). Now make 4 columns. The first column is labeled RESULT (this is one of your needle movers), the second column is labeled ACTIONS (these are the actions to take to achieve the specific needle moving RESULT), the third column is labeled OWNER (this is the person who is accountable for a given ACTION) and the fourth column is RESOURCES (these are the resources such as web sites, software and other tools or people to help an OWNER complete a given ACTION.)

A given RESULT will have usually 3-10 ACTIONS, which may have different OWNERS for each ACTION. There may or may not be RESOURCES for a given ACTION.

Get the idea? It’s all about determining the key results that you want to achieve and then listing all the actions that must take place to achieve that result. Assigning an owner and offering resources will of course help too.

The next time overwhelm or lack of focus creep up, count on your Needle Movers to shed light on where your energy and time must be allocated. As a result you’ll see a significant increase in your own productivity and focus, as well as that of your team. And you know how GREAT that feels!

CCA has developed a proprietary “Needle Mover” training and “Motivated Accountability System” to set execution at the highest bar possible. To learn more, contact Christine Comaford, The Executive Coach

Have You Defined Your Needle Movers?

In my experience helping build businesses, one of the main reasons why business leaders become overwhelmed and unfocused is because they aren’t defining their “needle movers” and exclusively working on them.

What is a “Needle Mover”?

I prefer the term Needle Mover as opposed to Goal. Goals are binary—you achieve them and feel great or you don’t and feel lousy. You won’t always achieve the exact result you want. This doesn’t mean you have failed! A result is a result, and it will move your business forward.

Now a Needle Mover is a given RESULT that will have a significant impact on the success of your business. You can break down this RESULT into ACTIONS. Once you determine your Needle Movers and create and follow a plan to achieve them you’ll see daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual results. Tangible results keep you excited, they build and maintain your MOMENTUM

What Will Move The Needle?

We all need help identifying the 3 activities to focus on RIGHT NOW that “move the needle” – meaning that move your business forward from zero to 10 miles per hour, or from 10 to 40 mph, or from 40 to 90 mph. Distilling your business to its essence is key here. Maybe to move your business forward you need to: generate more sales leads, close more sales, train up your team to be self-managed. At any given time, everyone on your team should have needle movers they are focusing on and reporting on. The reason I encourage you to distill your needle movers to only 3 is because each of these 3 activities will have sub-activities beneath them, and 3 key goals is plenty to focus on.

For now, I want us to focus on the specific RESULTS you want, and how to set a TARGET, MINIMUM and MIND BLOWER for each Needle Mover. The TARGET is what you want, the MINIMUM is what you are willing to accept, the MIND BLOWER is what would absolutely Rock Your World!

You will have annual Needle Movers, and you’ll have monthly and quarterly ones to help you achieve your annual ones.

CCA has developed a proprietary “Needle Mover” training and “Motivated Accountability System” to set execution at the highest bar possible. This ensures each strategic initiative is being implemented thoroughly throughout the culture, receiving the highest-level attention possible and allows management to immediately determine any effectiveness leaks in the system. Contact Christine Comaford and Associates today to help with your answers and your questions, Christine Comaford, The Executive Coach

Goal Setting 101, by Executive Coach, Christine Comaford

Goal-setting is the best way to build your dreams. Be SURE to set specific goals based on your desires, then see and feel them happening. Put yourself in that glorious future in your mind. To quote Einstein, “Imagination is everything – it is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

What comes next?  Write 1-3 goals in each of seven specific categories.

Free Time/Fun
Personal Development/Learning

Then, write each goal on an index card. Write it in present tense, starting with “I am” and using an active verb. Give each goal a DUE date, then be sure to append “or sooner” at the end. Example: “I am celebrating $10 million in revenue for my company by December 31, 2011, or sooner.”

Now you have your goal deck of seven to twenty-one cards. Go through the goal deck at least twice a day. Visualize achieving your goals – experiencing the good feelings associated with your success.

After reviewing your deck in the morning, write down three things you can do EACH DAY to help you achieve your #1 goal. Visualize them being achieved, and act on making them happen. You’ll be surprised how motivated you’ll be to move to the next step.

Then, as you reach a goal, move on to the next goal card.

Christine Comaford, The Executive Coach
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc. and Business Accelerator

PS:  Attend one of my Business Acceleration weekends.  You can find these events all over the country – the schedule is up at http://BusinessAccelerationIntensive.com – and if you’re DEFINITELY ready, you might want to work with me one-on-one to nail your pitch. Reach out at http://smarttribesinstitute.com/contact.

If you want to race toward your dreams, it helps to travel light. PART TWO

Today – and all week long, ask yourself the following questions:

· What does my current self-image “say” to others/what message does it project?
· Do I have excuses or “reasons” to FAIL? (Remember, ALL your reasons to FAIL can be ALL your reasons to overcome and succeed!)
· Do I feel powerful and capable with my current self-image?
· If you’re not satisfied with it, what’s keeping you from changing?

An honest self-assessment from the following questions will help you determine if it’s time to be a quick-change artist: 1) Does my current self-image have untapped potential? 2) Can I stretch/extend it to take me where I want to go?

I’m amazed at how many people lead lives of “quiet desperation,” as Thoreau said. They’re going through the motions, knowing that what they’re doing isn’t working, but too stuck, comfortable, or scared to change. These are the exact people who need reminding that everything is an illusion. It’s never too late to pick up one that’s more empowering. Insert name here, do you know someone who could benefit from answering the questions presented here to become a quick-change artist?

Instead of being trapped, consider this: Your past is useful. Look at it, but don’t stare. All experience is good. Review all of your answers to the above questions about changing illusions and design another one. Then make it come true.

Remember that we ALL have blocks – from the top CEOs to the newest entrepreneurs. If you ARE ready 100% ready to bust through yours, then having the right coach is key. I will MAKE room in my BAI program for you, IF you are serious. (I’ve added new dates all over the country if the West Coast isn’t your thing!) Teaching my Mighty Formula for Executive Evolution is my personal passion to turn this economy around, one success story at a time.

Christine Comaford, The Executive Coach
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc.
NY Times Best Selling Author http://businessaccelerationintensive.com

PS: Business Acceleration and an experienced Coach are always the key.

Your Number-One Needle Mover for This Week, by Executive Mentor, Christine Comaford

Here’s my WAKE-UP call for today.  Until we admit WHO we are, and aren’t, we can’t move past our limiting beliefs and into real success.  Why?  To keep it really simple, one person CAN’T do it ALL.  (And even if you could, would you want to?)

This week starts my semi-annual series on Needle Movers – but before I go there at breakneck speed, let’s cover what should be a TOP Needle Mover for all of us.  Delegation!

Not admitting our limitations and not delegating enough is a COMPLETE roadblock.

One day, I just had to STOP spinning my wheels and admit it, I was a total control freak.  Either I wouldn’t delegate, or when I would, I wouldn’t trust my staff to do it their way. This is not uncommon for first-time business owners — because we feel the company is our brainchild and we’re afraid to let anyone else take on responsibility for certain tasks.

But friends, there’s leadership, and then there’s micro management — know the difference! If you don’t you’ll inevitably alienate your staff and they’ll leave for greener pastures.

So LEARN to delegate, and then get out of the way and let your staff know you’re available for consultation and questions.  For this week, before we get DEEP into Needle Movers, practice a wake-up call that we’ve done once or twice before:  TODAY, and every day this week, make a list of five things you could delegate, and next to EACH item, put the name of a team member (or potential team member) you can (and will) delegate the task to by the end of the week.

If you find that you don’t have enough MVPs on your team, consider adding a few GREAT human resources!  (Like a rockin’ Virtual Assistant, or a mind-blowing pay-for-performance salesperson.)

Remember, if you’re REALLY serious about creating sales, clients, a killer team and a rockin’ success story, join me at BAI – http://mightyventures.com/BAI.  Work with me and a small group of CEOs in person and let us help you design a 90-day plan to MOVE your needle.

Christine Comaford, Executive Mentor
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc.
NY Times Best Selling Author http://mightyventures.com/bai/

Business Acceleration and a rockin’ mentor are key. http://mightyventures.com/bai/

Aspects of Ownership – Part Two, by Business Accelerator, Christine Comaford

Today is the second part of my blog on what makes your team members feel a sense of ownership.  Remember, there’s a lot more to be said about team BUILDING and ownership, and I go into tons more detail about this at my 7 Figure Business Summit on 4/30-5/2.  The event is only TWO weeks away now, and there are less than 30 spots left.  You can still come for the early-bird price of $997 AND bring a friend for half price. (That’s MY PERSONAL business acceleration recession buster — 7 Figure Business Summit.)

Reminder: Your comments and feedback on this blog are always welcome.

If you want more accountability, more initiative, more caring and concern for your business, you’ll want to crank up the aspects of ownership that a team member feels.

5. Authority.  This is the degree of autonomy the person has to make decisions without you.  Remember, a group of partners has limits on individual authority, so saying “owner” or not does not answer this question, it’s independent, but more authority does make someone feel like they have more power over their environment and life and thus feel more like an owner. Your team members need to “own” their areas completely without your micro-managing them, and likewise, major corporate decisions are yours, the CEO’s, and these must be respected too. It’s fine and even good to be questioned. If the emperor has no clothes, speak up for goodness sake. We all have reality distortion fields. The question is, is someone’s about to damage the company? If so, speak up, if not, let them thrive and control their area of responsibility.

6. Consultation.  People like (and want and need) to have their advice solicited, to be listened to, to be consulted on major decisions. This does not imply you have to do what they say, but does commit you to ask their opinion and listen. And heck, if you don’t want to consult your team members, then you have the wrong team. Remember how I say it’s crucial to hire people who are smarter than you? This is one of the many reasons why. You’ll want to tap into their smarts. Appreciation and acknowledgement are conveyed when you ask someone’s advice, when you respectfully listen to it and consider it.

7. “Marriage.”  This is the psychological aspect of feeling a sense of mutual commitment.  It is in some ways the aggregate of the other rights, but in my experience is more about the manner in which you deal with the person, the way you introduce them to the world externally and internally, and whether you act like the senior partner or the boss. For instance, I have an agreement with my team members that we’re in this together, and neither one of us will bail on the other without voicing our concerns and trying to remedy the situation. Sounds like a marriage doesn’t it? It sort of is, and when you have this degree of mutual commitment, it makes the hard days easier, the burdens lighter, the trust level higher, the road smoother. Because you’re not alone, as so many entrepreneurs feel they are.

8. Time.  All of these rights can increase or decrease over time (vesting).  No one but a founder (and often not a founder) gets everything irrevocably all at once.  Trust is earned. It’s a cycle of testing, and trusting, then testing some more, then trusting some more.

A sense of ownership is a beautiful thing. What are you doing to foster this within your team?

To your amazing and IMMEDIATE 7 Figure Success,

Christine Comaford, 7 Figure Business Builder
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc.
NY Times Best Selling Author of Rules for Renegades

PS: IF you cannot attend my Summit for any reason, then by all means, grab my Results Now Webinar and get started – but I think you should ALL be at that Summit and give me a chance to see you and hear the extraordinary life that YOU want to build.

Post a comment: Note: Posting a comment or favoriting sends a network update to your connections. You can disable this from the settings page. 0 Comments 0 Favorites This presentation has not been favorited yet! A personal Invitation from Christine Comaford

Connections! Great advice from The 7 Figure Business Builder, Christine Comaford

I remember when I got a gig writing a column for PC Week. A wonderful mentor of mine introduced me to the top brass there, and I offered to help de-mystify new technologies for their corporate audience. I wrote up 5 sample columns for free to show them how I might be of service to their readers. I brought benefits, not demands, to the table – and I got the job!

Because of my articles, I started getting hundreds of letters each month. I’d read every word and respond to them as a show of thanks to the editor for hiring me to write those columns. So what’s my point?

While it’s easy to get carried away by the heady feeling of a magazine profile, a favorable mention of your company, or a microphone stuck under your nose, remember that the media isn’t there to serve you. You’re there to serve them.

Think of the media as an extension of your network. In fact, they will be one of your best resources if you treat the relationship wisely. Find ways to serve them and they may become some of your best friends. So this week, ask yourself these questions:

–How can I be a connector?
–Can I put journalists in touch with helpful sources?
–Can I put business people in touch with one another?
–Is there an information gap that I can plug?

And remember–the key here is not to have a Rolodex you can “work”. After all, do you really want to be one of those insincere types who pull up their Outlook contact notes to ask how somebody’s spouse (fill-in-the-name) is doing when you don’t really care? That’s not what you want. You want REAL relationships formed over GREAT experiences.

(Now my plug! If you’re building a 7 Figure Business, the BEST place to find those like-minded people is my 7 Figure Business Building Summit. The early bird special price ends in less than two weeks, so click through now – and don’t forget, you can still bring a friend for half price! That’s TWO of you for $1,497 – unbelievable.) http://www.7FigureBusinessSummit.com  

To your success and your winning relationships!

Christine Comaford, The 7 Figure Business Builder
CEO of Mighty Ventures, Inc.
NY Times Best Selling Author

PS: This is the ONE event you must be at this year (if you’re REALLY ready to rock your business and rock your life: