Want to create a culture of success where great work and innovation thrive and positive bottom line results are achieved? You’ll need to start by creating a work environment focused on accountability.
Holding people accountable takes focus and persistence and is not what managers like to do. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 46 percent of a total of 5,400 upper-level managers surveyed rated that they held people accountable “too little.” Without a focus on accountability, people don’t know what is expected of them, which can result in mediocrity, stagnant performance and failure for individuals and teams to produce positive outcomes.
For many, accountability is a bad word, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, it’s a key to success and even joy when goals or business milestones are achieved. A culture of accountability is one in which expectations are well defined, goals are clearly articulated, and rewards and acknowledgement for hitting goals is commonplace. This type of environment creates engaged and excited employees that understand their priorities, strive for excellence and work together to succeed and be the best they can be.
Follow these four steps to create a culture of accountability and watch your business thrive.
1. Clearly articulate expectations and goals. If people know from the get-go what is expected of them and know what the goals are that they need to achieve, they then know what their priorities should be and how to spend their time. Goals provide a clear measure of success and accountability and should be specific and realistic but entail effort to achieve. If they are viewed as too easy or unattainable, then employees won’t put the effort in to reach them. By associating them with a time period (i.e. a month, a quarter, a year), you’ll provide employees with a timetable for which they are being held accountable.
Start by making sure that all employees have job descriptions that clearly define expectations. For instance, if you expect a personal trainer to convert 20 percent of the members who do complimentary appointments with them to training clients, then be sure to include that in the job description.
2. Report on goals regularly. Discuss goals in meetings, email staff frequently with updates and post goals in a place for all to see. Have staff report on their progress to date weekly and/or monthly. If you discuss and brainstorm strategies and action plans to hit goals, your team will know where they stand and have a roadmap to success. When employees have to report on goals, progress and end results, they are more likely to be accountable, follow through and do what it takes to succeed.
- Example No. 1: A membership advisor (MA) has a goal of selling 50 memberships for the month. Each day, they record their sales for the day, the total for the month and how many more they need to hit their goal on a whiteboard for all to see. In addition, the MA and the sales manager meet at the start of each day to review the MA’s daily action plan and results from the day before. The activities included in the daily action plan are outbound calls and emails, appointment bookings, tours, sales and outreach activities along with a specific number expected to be completed for each.
- Example No. 2: Each month a club may have a number of goals to hit including membership, revenue, retention, etc. If the general manager communicates the goals and the progress to date weekly along with encouragement and strategies that staff can embrace, they are more likely to keep their team focused and on track. As the month comes to a close, communication via email and face to face about where they are with respect to their goals should become more frequent, enabling the team to know just what they need to do day to day.
3. Communicate results. Share goal results with all staff on a timely basis, even if the goal wasn’t hit. If it was a goal for January, make sure to share the result in the first few days of February. If employees are going to be engaged and strive for success, not only do they need to know what the goal is, but they need to know how they did and how their work impacted results.
4. Celebrate, recognize and reward. When goals are hit, celebrate with your team and recognize the employees who helped create success. Not all recognition has to be monetary. Acknowledging employees publicly who have gone above and beyond can be a reward in and of itself. However, implementing a compensation system that rewards success for hitting goals, provides incentives for employees to focus on the company’s priorities.
If these four steps are followed, accountability will permeate your culture. Sure, you may still have to have some hard conversations with those who aren’t performing, but employees will know what’s expected of them, will have action plans that lead to attainment, and will be incentivized to work hard together to hit goals that lead to bottom line success.
Beth Wald is senior partner at Atwood Consulting Group. She has worked in the fitness industry for close to 20 years. Her fitness know-how comes from owning and managing coed and women-only fitness clubs with 1,000 to 4,000 members, launching several new fitness brands, and guiding, mentoring and advising fitness club entrepreneurs in a consulting role with the Atwood Consulting Group. In addition to having expertise in general fitness club operations, financial analysis, program development and management, she brings organizational development and talent acquisition expertise to her clients, has developed human resource infrastructures and has a commitment to customer service and hiring the best. Wald has been a featured speaker at the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association’s (IHRSA) international conventions and was on the faculty of the IHRSA Institute.