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From clarity with expectations to continuous support, employers hold the key to helping employees meet performance goals

COURTESY: DEREK PANGELINAN - Derek PangelinanThe need for business owners, managers, and leaders within organizations to effectively hold people accountable is a make-or-break skill. If you don't know how to hold people accountable — or worse, if you're afraid to hold people accountable — you're going to lose a lot of money through lost productivity, employee mistakes, upset customers, and employee churn.

While there are many mistakes leaders can make when it comes to holding others accountable, they commonly fall into five common groups: 1) the leader's responsibility, 2) clarity with expectations, 3) consistent training, 4) continuous support, and 5) accountability conversations.

For leaders struggling to improve in those five areas, the process isn't easy, but it can be done. It's a matter of becoming more disciplined and doing the right things at the right time.

• Begin by choosing to be responsible for your employees' performance. This is a shift in mindset that will immediately improve your decision-making as a leader.

• Get help from an HR professional to write high-quality job descriptions for each of your organization's roles and then share them with your employees.

• Design a documented training program so that you don't miss details in the training process.

• Regularly check in with your employees to ensure they are learning and improving.

• Have discussions around performance, being clear in communicating with employees about the areas where they are meeting expectations and the areas where there is room for improvement.

Here's what those five steps look like in action:

An owner of a car-detailing company in Portland was frustrated with under-performing employees who worked in the business's mobile-detailing division. Although he wanted to provide coaching to help the employees improve, it was difficult because he wasn't always able to be where the employees were working. However, as customer complaints and the amount of wasted supplies grew, he realized he needed to do something.

The owner decided it was time to hire a manager to run operations, allowing the owner to focus on working with his under-performing employees. As luck would have it, he was able to hire a recent transplant from the East Coast who had worked at a successful car-detailing franchise.

With a capable manager in place, the owner focused on coaching his employees. As he observed them on the job site, he was able to speak up when he saw something that he felt needed to be addressed.

The owner felt he was really making a difference in how his employees did their work. However, one month later, he found complaints were still coming in, and supplies were still being wasted. Confused, he shared the situation with his new manager. The manager mentioned a highly effective training manual that had been used at the East Coast franchise where he had worked previously. He offered to contact his former boss to obtain a copy of the manual.

When the manual arrived, the owner eagerly thumbed through it. The manual began with a letter to employees explaining how a supervisor would guide them step-by-step through a full training process, beginning with job descriptions. The training process steps included checklists, standard operating procedures, lessons on customer service, and scheduled reviews.

The owner used the training manual to retrain each employee. As employees progressed through each step, the owner began to see improvements in their work. The employees, in turn, thanked the owner for finally providing specific directions and clear communication about expectations instead of being "wishy-washy." That was an eye-owner for the owner. While he saw himself as a "shoot from the hip" kind of owner, he had no idea his employees had viewed him differently.

Within two months, employee mistakes had been almost eliminated, and customer complaints had become few and far between. The owner no longer needed to be on the schedule for detail jobs and instead focused on his people and growing the business.

As the owner realized, establishing accountability doesn't happen overnight. However, by taking a disciplined approach, it can be achieved. By following the five-step process, you can choose to be the business owner, the leader who is disciplined and does what's right, not what's easy.


Derek Pangelinan owns Derek Rey Consulting LLC. He is a management/leadership coach for small and medium business owners all across Oregon and Southwest Washington, and runs a variety of workshops to help them build their teams and improve communication and commitment in the workplace. For more information about coaching or workshops for you company, contact him by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit his website (derekreyconsulting.com).


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