2 Essential Elements to Grow Your Business

Accountability and ownership are two terms I frequently hear in business meetings. It is critical to hold your employees accountable and to have them take ownership of their work! I could not agree more!

  • I am sure you want to hold your team or contractors accountable for their work. The first step is for them to understand what they are accountable for, right?
  • To have accountability and ownership be part of the company culture, the communication must be transparent and clear. Do you agree?
  • Regardless of your core values, you want ownership and accountability to be part of the culture by default. How are you going to accomplish this?

Here is a list of processes and tools you must put in place to foster a culture of accountability and ownership.

The first step is the hiring process!

Yes, accountability and ownership should be set as non-negotiables from start. The best way to do it is during the hiring process.

To begin with, you should be very clear on what are the responsibilities for all roles in your organization. Include all details in the job description.

Details to include in the job description

  • Job expectations are critical. They lay the groundwork for good collaboration. They help new hires understand what they sign up for.
  • Then there are the KPIs. They can be communicated in advance or they can be discussed together with your team members. KPIs must be aligned with company wide goals and direction.
  • Role specific objectives must be also discussed during the hiring process.

Make room for accountability and ownership in the onboarding process

The best time to emphasize the importance of accountability and ownership is during the onboarding process. This is also an opportunity to provide clarity on expectations.

You may have shared some job requirements during the hiring process. Most likely you presented an abbreviated version. Now you have the responsibility to go more in depth and paint the complete picture for the new hires.

My advice is to start by documenting expectations for the role. Share them with relevant team members.

What to include in the expectation document

  • General business conduct and attitude expectations. These are rules derived from company culture. They apply to all teams.
  • Specific requirements and expectations for the role. The more detailed, the better. They will provide new hires with clarity and will eliminate confusion and ambiguity.
  • KPIs for the role. These are the thermostat that provide transparency on goals progress.

Communicating during onboarding

Having proper documentation in place is important. This has to be backed up by efficient communication between new hires and their direct supervisor. Their communication should be regular and it should touch upon:

  • Performance metrics and how great performance looks like.
  • Project or process ownership to understand who owns each area of their work.
  • Quality standards for deliveries.
  • Other specific requirements, if applicable.

Over communicating with the new hire during the first 1-3 months speeds up onboarding. The next step is the transition to an accountability and ownership centered phase.

Create an Accountability Chart

We are all familiar with the standard organizational charts. They tell us who is who and what are the reporting structures in the company. This may be useful in some cases, no doubt about it!

Traditional organizational charts do not support business’ scalability. They de-prioritize the process in favor of the individual. This is a problem.

Furthermore, the org chart does not provide an overview of current and forecasted roles. It does not show any correlation with the development plans of your company. The hiring decision should come as the result of an accountability in your business not being associated with a person who can do the job. By contrast most hiring decisions happen when a person is overburdened by their tasks.

How is the Accountability Chart different?

The accountability chart lists the business’ major functions and responsibilities . The difference is in the focus. The org chart focuses on team members and their tasks. The accountability chart focuses on roles needed by the business to thrive.

Not having an accountability chart might lead to lack of clarity on who is responsible for what. Time will be wasted because there is an accountability knowledge gap. Missed deadlines will occur because there is no one driving action.

What should an accountability chart look like?

Think of a role-based chart that represents the structure of your company. Include all business areas with their processes. Focus on the scalability of the business regardless of who is doing the work at the time.

Is an accountability chart helping your company grow in any way?

Yes, it most certainly does!

While creating your accountability chart, you may discover that some resources on your team working in 1, 2, 3, or even 5 roles. This is a clear red flag that should draw your attention to a potential capacity issue.

Is this something that transpires when using a standard org chart? I do not believe so.

With its focus on roles, the accountability chart makes easy for you to develop a strategy for company growth. The accountability chart is a great tool for identifying empty seats in your company. The same goes about seats filled by the wrong person. It is thus a trigger for initiating the hiring process.

On the other hand, what you see most companies do is hiring when X or Y are overburdened. Expansion is based on a random pipeline of tasks vs planned company growth.

The accountability chart is the most transparent and accessible tool to communicate responsibilties. This leads to accountability, which in turn supports accomplishing goals. Ultimately, accomplished goals take you one step closer to the implementation of your vision.

Let’s work together on the Accountability Chart

Project management tools help with taking ownership

The most successful leaders are role models. This is also true when it comes to taking ownership and leading projects. If you want to build ownership into your company culture it is not enough to lead by example. Coaching your team on how to do it is an important aspect.

Last but not least, provide them with a structure that makes it easy to take ownership.

Ensure that ownership of the projects and tasks is transparent and clear to everyone. The visibility I talk about can be achieved by correctly implementing a project management tool. Project management tools are as reliable as the quality and completeness of their setup.

Must haves for your project management tool setup

  • All projects and related resources are visible to all relevant team members.
  • Divide projects and milestones into discrete action items.
  • Verify that each discrete action has an owner. In this case more is not better. Having two or more owners for the same task may lead to nobody taking ownership, hoping the others will.
  • All discrete action items must have a due date.
  • All projects must have timelines. The project management system is a good place to document them.

In the absence of these elements, the system cannot be trusted. It will almost certainly fail in fostering a culture of ownership.

Reporting on ownership

One of the most impactful reporting structures I used is the scorecard. I recommend it comes making ownership transparent.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s a little context:

  • The scorecard is a reporting structure that lists business relevant lists measurables.
  • Each of these metrics must have an owner who tracks it and reports on it.
  • It gives you valuable insights on the progress toward achieving goals.
  • It provides quick visibility into downward or upward trends in your business. These are crucial for taking corrective actions early on.
  • The scorecard is useful in assigning onwership for the most important numbers in your business.

What kind of numbers can you track using scorecards?

  • General business numbers: revenue to date, profit to date, sales pipeline, client retention rate etc.
  • Growth related numbers: growth month over month, new number of leads, conversion rate etc.
  • Any other numbers which are relevant for your business.

Final thoughts on accountability and ownership

In my experience, successful remote companies rely on accountability and ownership. Is is the foundation of their culture. This is not always easy to implement. However, the investment is totally worth it!

If you want your company to grow, your goals to be achieved, your profits to rise you must have:

  • The right people in your team. They must be owners by nature.
  • Clear expectations for your people.
  • The right structures to support them to take ownership.
  • An owner mindset yourself in order to inspire and lead the way.

You are a fearless leader, so I’m confident that you now understand what it takes to foster a culture of accountability and ownership. You want your business to be scalable and profitable so you will invest the time and resources to make it happen.

I need 1:1 consulting on this!

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