How Public Accountability Can Reduce Cultural Ruptures


“We say we work in a professional environment, but I have a peer who seldom follows through on his action items, causing us to miss deadlines.”

“I work in accounting and I’m aware that leadership has misrepresented financial estimates to some of our lenders.”

“I can’t believe in today’s world that my manager continues to make sexists comments in our meetings.”

“We failed to honor warranties to some of our customers by inaccurately claiming that they had failed to service the equipment according properly.”

As revealed in the above comments, Sarah Clayton writing in the HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, reports that one in five employees have experienced a cultural crisis—shoddy quality, discrimination, cheating customers, bad leader behaviors—in the last year or two. 

Lack of accountability appears to be a major reason for these cultural ruptures.  For fear of elevating incidents, too many leaders just look the other way.  And when leaders do hold people accountable, they hide their actions under the cloak of “privacy.”

Effective cultures identify clear expectations and consequences regarding legal, ethical, and moral behaviors. 

To ensure greater accountability, leaders should:  (1) communicate expectations vigorously and repetitively, (2) apply appropriate consequences, and (3) shine the light on consequences by making them public.

Four Signals that Suggest Termination


While participating in a management meeting, I witnessed an intense discussion about whether Alex, a long-time employee, should be terminated.  Most admitted concern about Alex’s performance but several were hesitant fire Alex.

Managers who argued for keeping Alex made statements like:  “Alex has been with us for a long time.”  “Technology has changed his job a lot.”  “He’s not a bad person.”

Managers struggle with termination decisions because they realize employees need income for food, clothing, and shelter; and often, to support family members.  Peers, even though they realize that their workload is overburdened by a slacker, may still worry about the forever absence of a work associate.

Below are four signals to clarify the appropriate time for pressing the termination button.

The low-performing employee . . .

  1. . . . is unresponsive to coaching and training.
  2. . . . shows little or no enthusiasm for the job.
  3. . . . complains excessively about managers’ decisions.
  4. . . . has shown little, or no, improvement for six months.

If any one of the four statements apply, a caring termination is likely better for both the company and the employee.

 

How to Ensure Accountability of Remote Workers


(Part 3 of 5)

“I’ve allowed four of my staff to begin working remotely two days a week,” commented a manager, “but I still worry that some may spend too much time, gaming, mowing their lawns or taking kids to the park.”

Some managers hover over remote staff by employing rigid work schedules, screen checks, end-of-day-work reports, and time logs.  Such practices are more likely to alienate than to engage employees.

Several companies successfully employ some version of a “Results-Only-Work-Environment” (ROWE) where employees are paid for output—as indicated by KPI’s, metrics, dashboards, checklists, proof-of-work—rather than hours worked.

Fortunately, apps such as Sococo, Slack, Asana and Basecamp are very efficient tools for allowing managers to “trust but verify” remote worker collaboration and output.

One manager reported, “In our Monday video conferences, I ask team members to list six or seven of the most important tasks they wish to finish.  The following Monday we review the lists.”  Between Monday’s the manager and team members rely on the Sococo app to cooperate on challenges, surprises, updates, and whatever.

Bottom line—if you cannot trust your employees to work when you are not watching them, you probably need to get different employees.