By Stuart R. Levine
Published in, Forbes
Measuring is paramount when you’re trying to create change and improvement. It’s the only way to identify gaps and close them. In trying to create a healthy culture within your work environment to achieve employee engagement, outstanding performance and results, it’s critical to measure your culture on an ongoing basis, not just once a year if at all.
Alignment throughout your organization leads to better performance. This includes alignment on values, strategies and vision for the future. When values are aligned, attracting and retaining and motivating talent becomes seamless. Culture is not just a buzz word anymore. Investors are now asking very serious questions about the work environment and whether misaligned values exist that have the potential to erode shareholder value.
Companies can now access tools and products that will effectively measure their culture bi-monthly to ensure that employees are engaged and getting the feedback needed to ensure the work environment supports growth and results. It’s no longer helpful to have employee surveys once a year and then have to determine a game plan in the following year to solve problems occurring within the organization. Achieving time-sensitive, confidential data on an ongoing basis is the best way to monitor and impact your culture.
Healthy cultures where people are accountable, puts employees and managers on the same page to make results happen. In this paradigm, accountability is not forced. It is not a top-down, command and control system that excludes the employee in setting their goals. When the workforce is engaged in expectations for their deliverables, a culture of engagement is created and there are fewer disappointments and surprises as well as reduced frustration from both managers and employees. When it comes to employee accountability, as the saying goes: “The best surprise is no surprise”. In a culture of accountability people honor their commitments, keep their word, and push through obstacles to get the job done. Healthy cultures don’t penalize mistakes so that employees don’t hide behind them. They are encouraged to learn from them. When mistakes are penalized, employees feel disengaged, undervalued and frustrated.
Shockingly, Gallup reports that only about half of all company employees know what is expected of them. Unfortunately far too many managers in too many companies do not have the necessary training or skills required to create a healthy culture of accountability. CareerBuilder.com, the on-line resource for job opportunity and advice, reports that 58% of managers surveyed reported not receiving any management training at all, let alone training on the skills needed to create a healthy culture around accountability.
Focused senior leadership attention to these issues can help to create a culture where people have the tools they need to get the work done. They use this is an opportunity to develop employees and build trust. A recent HBR study reported that 54% of employees lack a high level of trust in their employers. Managers and team members need to work together to set objectives that capitalize on, and further cultivate employee strengths. Best practices include collaboratively setting specific measurable goals and a timetable to achieve them.
SMART goal-setting (specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented and time-bound) has been in the management lexicon for decades, and still remains a useful tool. When individual objectives link and align with the organizational vision, mission and strategies, employees are more motivated as they see how their work contributes to the company’s success. Goals need to inspire and be challenging for growth and employees need the resources or authority to make them happen. Stretch assignments are fundamental to employee learning, development, and engagement. People want attention paid to their growth progress and prospects. Millennials, who comprise almost 50% of the current workforce, rank personal development as their top workplace consideration. When goals and responsibilities are clearly communicated in a way that eliminates the chance for misunderstanding, everyone wins.
Managers and the employees need to engage in regular conversations about progress towards established goals. Studies show that high-performing managers check in at least weekly, or even daily at times depending on the task. Management feedback is given in the spirit of coaching for employee development and success. The manager focuses on the person’s strengths and on what is working. When obstacles arise, the manager becomes a resource to empower the employee to find solutions and determine actions that address the situation.
Celebrating success is a low or no-cost “employee benefit” that produces dramatic results. People want to know that their work is important, and that management cares and recognizes their accomplishments. Acknowledging employee achievements frequently, and in a way that corresponds to a person’s successes a timely basis, is a powerful tool for sustaining a culture of accountability. When employees feel valued, productivity rises, turnover decreases, and the desire for achievement and likelihood of accomplishing expectations increase. When acknowledgement comes from someone senior, like the CEO or another C-suite member, employees remember and find it especially impactful.
In short, accountability cultures create engagement. Individual and organizational goals are aligned. Communication is clear. People know what is expected of them. Individuals acknowledge their failures and learn from them. They are motivated to succeed to make success happen. High-quality manager-employee interaction generates buy-in, spurs commitment to accomplishment, and builds trust. Leadership makes sure that the organization has the programs and learning opportunities to make creating a culture of accountability a reality.