Very few people go to work every day to deliberately do a bad job. Yet, at the same time, nearly every manager will tell you that managing people is one of their most difficult responsibilities.
That these two realities can co-exist is a conundrum. So, Change Agents, what are workplaces doing that means that managing well intentioned people ends up causing frustration, anxiety, and apprehension? We don't believe it should be this way, and we think that the way we look at accountability is the problem.
Accountability is actually an implied contract, rather than a physical one. So our employment contracts and job descriptions can only create a tool with which to measure compliance. It is a myth that these create any accountability at all. As managers, we need to focus on the human elements in order to genuinely create accountability.
When we are frustrated, anxious and apprehensive, then we are dealing with emotions. These are emotional responses to a perception that a person you manage is not committed, is not compliant, or is not meeting your expectation. In acknowledging this we can find part of the solution to resolving the conundrum.
THE 3 GREAT BIG RULES OF ACCOUNTABILITY
1. Acknowledge the emotional contract.
You can't, ultimately, hold somebody accountable for something without their permission. This is not about them signing a contract to complete certain tasks, it is about your mutual emotional commitment to mutually understood outcomes, that you both believe are important.
If you merely monitor the compliance to achieving tasks, then you are slowly undermining the emotional contract as the tasks become the focus, rather than the important outcome that the tasks are there to achieve.
Nurturing the ongoing permission to be held accountable means showing that you are mutually committed to the achievement of the important outcome, and having a common understanding of why it matters. If you want people to 'give a damn', then show them why it matters, and show them the importance of their contribution to it!
2. Create autonomy and give clarity.
Autonomy is an important human driver; it is freedom. While workplaces can rarely provide full autonomy, we can remove the micromanagement that usually undermines it. We remove micromanagement when we:
These actions not only provide autonomy, they also create a shared clarity of the desired outcomes. In addition we give clarity through the visibility of the teams within which we work, how those teams fit together, and the contribution of each person in the team.
Clarity also involves having awareness of, and the ability to contribute to, the policies, procedures, and training within the organisation. In far too many workplaces, these are hidden in secure drives, or only referenced when things go wrong. Instead, they should be a description of how things go right! They should be the way things are done around here, codified so that everyone has a common understanding.
Giving clarity is how you overcome the perceived fear, or risk, of giving autonomy. It's a major step to reducing the anxiety and apprehension in managing others.
3. Accept that there will be conflicts in any relationship.
Even with our closest colleagues we will, from time to time, have differing of opinion. Create a safe place to discuss issues and take an explorative approach to resolving the differences. Taking the time to understand the differing points of view is not only constructive, it builds trust and enables a mutual understanding of what performance will look like, given the constraints faced to achieve it.
We created The H Factor system to provide managers with a reliable process for instilling accountability, and to give the people they manage the capacity to demonstrate their contribution to the business outcomes.
Ah, meetings. They're much maligned, often for good reason. We have standing meetings, catchup meetings, board (bored?) meetings, team meetings, committee meetings, project meetings, and even annual general meetings. You might ask, "how on earth do we get anything done?".
It's easy to say that meetings are a waste of time, but they remain an important part of workplace interaction. When done well they are a powerful addition to workplace productivity. So, how can we make better meetings?
Meetings matter when people leave them with inspiration, clarity, actions, learning, and/or accountability.
It's what happens after the meeting that matters! So, before you call a meeting, decide which of these objectives you want to achieve - and be ready to communicate why that's important. To borrow the phrase from Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, "begin with the end in mind".
None of us work in isolation. We have teams that we are a part of, and therefore we will have a need to meet from time to time. Making those meetings effective and productive is dependent on the habits we instil when we get together.
THE 15 'H'ABITS OF EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
Once you've established the meetings purpose, instil these habits to ensure your meeting is productive:
Effective meetings are all about discipline and commitment. Instilling these habits will give people clarity of their contribution, and make your meetings a powerhouse for productive action.
Using Teams and Actions in The H Factor
Anyone can create a team at any time. We encourage people to use the system to formalise your meetings and make them more effective. In formalising your team, you also give visibility to all your colleagues of the purpose for the team and the members in it.
Once you have created the team then the team members can use the system to capture actions from the meeting, assign them to a team member, and confirm their importance and due date. This makes it easy for you to instil the 15 habits into your team.
Only the team members can see the actions.
All actions display in the current actions table until they are completed, where they can be sorted by action owner, due date, or importance.
The system will stores all the completed actions of the team in the completed actions table. There they can be easily searched and sorted so that the team history is preserved.
Sometimes, it takes just one question to cut through and help us realise that change is needed.
This month, we were fortunate to be selected in a business accelerator bootcamp. It was an amazing opportunity, where we were able to sit with experienced mentors and work through our own business strategy. We are extremely grateful to have heard different perspectives on our business and explore different pathways to grow it.
The program helped us to gain some clarity of what we want to achieve, and where we want to focus. As a result, we are going to be making some exciting changes at The H Factor.
The question that cut through for us was, "Where do you intend to direct your focus in order truly scale your business?"
Since starting our business, we have followed our passion for enabling business leaders and their teams to embrace the human factors in their approach to engaging with each other. From when we (Robyn and Andrew) first met, we've held a common desire to transform workplaces to be places where everyone could feel a sense of fulfilment from what they do.
We decided to work together to codify the factors that made productive business cultures. Our collaboration has become an enduring friendship and we love what we have created. We especially love the relationships we have built along the way; with clients and their teams, our supplier partners, our wider business network, and many others who have supported us so far.
Over the years we have created a number of consulting and training products as well as the H-Me online system. Really, the mentor was asking us through which avenue we would choose to achieve our purpose, and at that moment we realised we needed to narrow our focus.
Four years ago we began the journey of creating the H-Me system. We started that journey because we realised that in order to achieve our purpose we needed to give managers a system, to make it easier to manage their people. We launched the system back in March 2017 and since then we have been further developing the system with many improvements and new features.
Now we are ready to put the system front and centre in our business strategy. The system will be rebranded as The H Factor and we will be retiring the H-Me name. From now, The H Factor is a people management system.
Over the coming weeks we will be changing our website to be fully focused on The H Factor system. We will be actively seeking new partners; other consultants who will be licensed to sell and implement the system with their own clients through following our implementation and support model.
We take this opportunity to thank everyone who has provided feedback and suggestions in helping us build The H Factor, and we invite you to continue to do so. This change will enable us to grow our user base and continue to grow the system's capability.
Nothing will change for our users. Please continue to login via our website.
We will continue to send the weekly Change Agent. We will be free to "call it as we see it", and we'll continue to highlight the need for business leaders to embrace the natural human factors to enable their people to create the extraordinary.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.