Accountability key to boosting productivity

By BenefitsPro

By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

How accountable are your employees?

Any employer hoping to meet its goals needs employees who are motivated and productive, and that all begins with a system of accountability, says Jason Carney, director of human resources at WorkSmart Systems Inc., a professional employer organization in Indianapolis.

To create a system of accountability, the employer must first communicate its business goals, Carney says. If employees are unaware of those goals, they could argue that they can’t be productive and held accountable in the first place. Employees need to understand what it is they’re working toward to get the most out of their efforts.

An effective accountability system cannot sustain itself without the help of an involved management team, Carney says. Managers need to understand their employees’ capabilities and should be held accountable themselves for developing their employees.

“Without truly setting organizational goals, employees are just adrift, and (so) management needs to get involved,” Carney says. “Whether they’re using a solid review system or coaching, it has to be from the top down.”

Cross-training is especially helpful for creating accountability, Carney says. When everyone is trained in the different roles in a department, employees have a greater awareness of their co-workers’ duties, and that transparency makes it much more difficult to get away with poor productivity.

“If I know what the person in the cubical next to me is responsible for doing – or, more importantly, I know that they know what I’m responsible for – it can help with the peer-pressure effect and make employees more accountable.”

An employer can also ensure its employees are motivated and staying accountable by creating personality profiles for its workforce. What motivates one employee may not motivate another, and a manager needs to understand how to reach employees’ unique motivators.

For instance, employers often rely on recognition to motivate employees, but they should be careful when using this approach, Carney says. While some employees thrive on recognition, others dread public acknowledgement and would rather quietly finish their work.

“The last thing you want to do is demotivate somebody by publicly praising them when they can’t stand that,” Carney says. “That truly makes some people’s skin crawl.”

Even if a manager creates and oversees a system of accountability, productivity issues can still arise, but having an understanding of how each individual employee works goes a long way in solving the problem, Carney says. Specifically, a manager should understand how his or her employees are motivated and how to recognize deficiencies. When an employee falls short, the manager should put in place realistic, attainable goals and follow up with the employee.

“Too many times, productivity issues are swept under the rug for a while and ignored,” Carney says. “It’s human nature, but if the manager can get on it early, stay on it and make sure a performance improvement plan is in place, the situation can be turned around.”

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