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.

3 replies
  1. Craig McQueen
    Craig McQueen says:

    Thanks for the great article Christine. What I particularly like is how you illustrate accountability through specific actions (e.g. recruit 5 new sales people) and resulting target metrics (e.g. add 20+ retails channels). Sometimes actions like these can be new behaviors and in addition to people’s existing job. Any suggestions on how to make them a priority?

    Reply

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  1. […] Productive And Accountability Drop: They are missing deadlines, not achieving needle movers, they aren’t keeping normal hours or if they are in the office – they aren’t ‘all there’. […]

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