A Culture of Accountability Sets the Stage for High Performance
To succeed, companies need to consistently perform at higher levels – and they cannot afford to miss the mark.  For leaders this means bigger goals, increased complexity and tighter budgets.  For employees this means higher expectations, an increased pace of change and the need to do more with less.  That is where a culture of accountability comes into play.

Too many organizations are not performing at their peak because their leaders have not created a culture of accountability that sets the stage for high performance.

Two Phases of Creating a Culture of Accountability
There are, fundamentally, two phases to building a high performing culture of accountability:

1. Setting clear performance expectations

2. Establishing a fair and transparent system of accountability

Setting Clear Performance Expectations
In order to perform the right tasks the right way, employees need to be clear about exactly what is expected of them.  This is the way to make sure employees focus on DOING the activities that align with the overall company strategy and BEHAVING in a way that aligns with cultural standards.

Establishing a Fair and Transparent System of Accountability
The only way to ensure that performance expectations are met regularly in a way that makes sense is to set up a company-wide system that exposes where people stand relative to performance expectations.  The best systems are fair, timely, accurate and relevant.

A Culture of Accountability
Here is what you need to create a strong culture of accountability:

  • The Critical Few Objectives
    If you set up too many goals, you risk confusion, overlap, and a loss of focus. Identify no more than three core objectives at each level.  Each employee should know how what they do contributes to the team goals and, ultimately, to the company goals.  The objectives should be achievable with challenging, but reasonable, effort.
  • The Means to the End
    Work at all the company, team and individual levels to identify the specific resources needed for success and the obstacles you need to overcome. It is the leaders’ job to be sure that employees have the means to achieve the end result.  This can include training, access to special expertise, additional funding and personnel and, above all, the leaders’ unwavering support.
  • Tracking and Sharing
    Teams need to hold frequent meetings to track progress toward the goals and share lessons learned. Results should be transparent to all.  When there is a lag, the whole team should work together to figure out what is going wrong and how to fix it.
  • Consequences
    From the get-go, employees need to understand that they will be held accountable for results. If there is substandard performance, team leaders need to take action –  either to provide additional support or, after a reasonable trial period, let the poor performer go.  If there is outstanding performance, recognize the results with congratulations, a bonus, additional autonomy, greater visibility, more flexible hours or whatever would be meaningful to the high achiever.

The Bottom Line
When you have a culture of accountability where employees regularly make and keep commitments, you have created an environment of high performance where trust and continuous learning are the predominant values.  It takes hard work and commitment, but it’s worth it.

To learn more about creating a culture of accountability to increase performance, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

Good Strategies Pay Dividends and Get Implemented Consistently
If you better communicate your strategy, your chances for success increase dramatically.  Good strategies outline clear and compelling choices about what actions to take and where to play.  Done right, your strategy should provide the underpinning for everything you do.

Are You Investing in Strategy Communication?
While leaders often spend massive amounts of time and energy crafting strategic plans to help their company get to the next level, they rarely invest the same amount of effort to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  According to a survey by IBM, less than one in ten well formulated strategies are effectively executed.  That is why employees want leaders to better communicate your strategy.

Strategy Execution Stumbling Blocks
Our organizational alignment research found that strategy accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies.  There are many causes for the gaps between strategy design and execution.  The biggest issue — few companies are able to clearly articulate their strategy in a way that is understood, agreed-upon, and believed in by both leaders and employees.

6 Ways to Better Communicate Your Strategy
Here are some tips for how to better communicate your strategy so you spread the word in a way that will be understood, accepted, believed and supported.

1. Actively Involve Employees from the Start
It’s human nature. Employees are much more apt to sign on for a strategy that includes their input.  Strategies should not be crafted just by the leadership.  After all, employees are the ones who have to translate goals into action steps.  They have a unique perspective that should be included and valued for their teams and workgroups.

2. Consistently Educate
You can’t expect employees to understand the rationale for a major shift in strategy unless you keep them in the loop every step of the way regarding what you are trying to do, why you are doing it and how you expect them to pull it off. Give employees the context and data that they need in order to follow and buy into your plans.  The more transparent you can be in sharing information, the closer employees will be to supporting you.

3. Inspire Meaning
Try to express the strategy in a way that focuses on a grander purpose than simply making money. Employees will be more engaged when they feel that what they do has a worthwhile objective.  Articulate the strategy in a way that is meaningful to the company, your employees and your clients.

4. Keep It Simple and Relevant
Use simple, clear, direct language. No “corporate speak” allowed.  Describe the company’s core purpose and strategic goals in terms that make sense to employees on the front lines.  That’s where the real work gets done.

5. Stay in Touch
The strategies that succeed are oft-repeated, modeled and reinforced. Leaders and senior managers need to repeat the message often, stay available for questions and address issues as they arise.  Keep a strong pulse on what is working and what is not working as you move forward.

6. Fully Fund the Campaign
Send the message in a variety of ways—posters, emails, team meetings, CEO announcements, social media, blogs, games. Don’t scrimp on your investment in communicating the strategy and tracking its progress.  The more varied the media, the larger your audience.

The Bottom Line
If you better communicate your strategy, your chances for success increase dramatically.  Good strategies outline clear and compelling choices about what actions to take and where to play.  Don’t underinvest in the communication piece of strategic planning and execution.

To learn more about how to better communicate your strategy, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

Does Recognition Increase Employee Engagement?
We wanted to understand the difference between recognition that increases employee engagement and recognition that does not.  How many times have you heard the phrase “great job” directed at co-workers or even kids on the sports field?  The intention, of course, is to help people feel good about what they are doing and to encourage the desired good behavior and effort you are looking for.  But does it work?

Over-Recognition Can Backfire
We believe that recognition only increases motivation and effort when the receiver feels that it is truly deserved.  A recent study at Stanford cited in Psychology Today showed that “praising effort, not talent, leads to greater motivation and more positive attitudes toward challenges” in the future.  But empty, non-specific, insincere, undeserved, or exaggerated praise (like the generic “great job”) can have the opposite effect.

Yes, it is important for managers to recognize and praise their employees.  In fact that’s a critical attribute of high employee engagement.  But managers need to do it right or employee motivation and effort will be undermined.

Recognition that Increases Employee Engagement
Recognition that increases employee engagement requires five critical qualities if it is to have the desired result.  Recognition that increases employee engagement needs to be:

  • Sincere
    If you don’t genuinely believe that praise is due, forget it. Inauthentic praise rings hollow.
  • Specific
    Get right down to the specifics of the behavior you are recognizing. It will be much more helpful if you tell an employee that their carefully crafted agenda kept everyone on topic than just saying, “Good meeting.”
  • Deserved
    For an employee to feel that they deserve recognition, they should feel that they worked for it. They should have exceeded expectations rather than just have met them.  The extra effort is what you should appreciate and call out.
  • Meaningful
    Know your employees so that when you recognize them it is in a way they will value. Some would rather have a raise than a new title; some prefer public recognition while others are embarrassed at being singled out; some would value more flexibility in their work schedules; and so it goes.
  • Trusting
    If you really want to recognize your employee’s performance, give them opportunities to learn and grow. Show that you trust and value them by rewarding them with more autonomy matched by greater responsibility, visibility and stature—along, of course, with commensurate compensation.

The Bottom Line
If greater employee engagement is the goal (and shouldn’t it be?), then make sure that the way you recognize your team members will have the desired effect of increasing motivation, desired behavior and effort.

To learn more about recognition that increases employee engagement, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways To Boost Engagement

Being a Good New Manager from the Start
Being a good new manager is not a matter of luck.  When new managers falter, it is almost always due to a lack of management preparation and support.  And often the blame belongs to the leaders who promoted them into their new role.

Leading Is Very Different than Doing
Many employees are promoted to management because of their success delivering results as an individual contributor combined with their technical expertise. But one critical ingredient is often missing – the ability to get work done through others.  Too many new managers have not been taught how to effectively lead people.

Research on New Manager Effectiveness
With more than half of first-time managers reporting that they received no training when promoted, it is not surprising that up to 50% of new managers are deemed ineffective by their bosses.  Additionally, Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units.  The bottom line is that most new managers struggle in their new role.

Two Solid Tips to Better Prepare New Managers
Be sure you set up your new managers to succeed by:

1. Providing the Right Management Development
Don’t just look for a standard management training program, sign them up and think you’ve done your job in preparing them. While the management fundamentals are an important starting point, make sure that any new manager training focuses on the critical few management situations that make the difference between an average and extraordinary manager at your company with respect to your unique strategy and culture.

Then make sure to customize the content to each person’s specific development needs.  Are they able to adapt to different communication styles?  Do they know how to run effective meetings?  Can they delegate tasks and hold team members accountable?  Do they know the importance of setting clear expectations?  These are just a few of the skills they will need to succeed at being a good new manager.

2. Provide Continued Support and Coaching
Only 1-in-5 management training participants change their on-the-job performance from management training alone.  Acknowledge that there will be a learning curve and ongoing challenges.  Then provide consistent feedback, coaching and support to let them know how they are doing and to provide advice on how to improve.

The Bottom Line
The effectiveness of your managers matters too much to your overall business performance to neglect the thoughtful preparation of new managers.  They need targeted development opportunities early on, understanding and support as they move into their new position, and ongoing coaching so they have a chance to learn from their mistakes and continuously improve.  Do not leave the process up to luck.

To learn more about being a good new manager, download The Six Management Best Practices that Make the Difference between Effective and Extraordinary

The Wrong Customers Waste Time, Money and Energy
New salespeople are so eager to show a robust pipeline and close deals that they often find themselves chasing the wrong customers.   They mistakenly make pitches to anyone who will listen.  Conversely, high performing sales reps ruthlessly focus on target customers where they know they will win the majority of the time.

The Definition of Bad Customers
Customers that are difficult to work with, who don’t fully need or value what you sell, who are overly concerned with price or who are at odds with your culture, are just bad investments.  They are costly in terms of your time, your resources and your energy.  And they are rarely satisfied.

Three Things Ideal Target Customers Do
Ideal target clients:

  • Don’t just buy your stuff; they passionately buy and use what you have to offer.
  • Don’t just need what you offer; they feel they must have what you offer.
  • Are not merely satisfied with what you offer; they are thrilled with what you offer.

Define Your Ideal Target Customer Profile
The best solution sellers do not waste time chasing the wrong customers.  They know what makes for a good client and how to win their trust.  Just as every company’s strategy and culture is unique, the same is true for defining your ideal customer.  It is well worth defining your ideal target client profile where you should win the majority of the time.

Six Areas to Get Right So You Stop Chasing the Wrong Customers
If you want to stop chasing the wrong customers, make sure that you and your team agree upon the following six areas regarding your target clients:

1. Target Industry
What client industry or industries make the most sense based upon what you do and know best?

2. Target Geography
What locations represent your ideal clients?  Where are they headquartered?  Where do they do business?

3. Target Size
What size attributes matter most?  Is it revenue, number of employees, number of divisions or locations, and/or annual spend?

4. Target Buyer
Who specifically is your best buyer?  What is their title, role, and/or function?  Are they the decision maker?  Are they someone who is reachable by your sales force?

Are the problems that you solve one of their top priorities? What is their style?  What do they appreciate the most?  What do they believe in?  What are their strongest traits?

5. Target Attributes
How would you describe the situation that your best clients find themselves in that makes your value proposition so attractive? What are the biggest challenges that they face?

What are their most pressing issues that you know you can solve better than anyone else?  How would your clients express that goal, problem, or need?

6. Buying Triggers
What event or events cause your target buyers to have a clear need that creates a sense of purpose and urgency in their buying process for what you have to offer?

The Bottom Line
Customers who best fit you and your business create repeat business, provide referrals, and supply testimonials to help grow your top line. Top solution sellers avoid bad customers who waste time, energy and money.  Smart solution sellers put a red light on chasing the wrong customers who have little need, inclination or means to buy.

To learn more about how to avoid chasing the wrong customers, download 4 Steps to Ideal Target Client Definition

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More