People must face consequences that matter to them if they fail to deliver on their promises. Too often, managers talk a good game, but in reality they let their people of the hook. Without real accountability, all is lost! Here are a few ways to hold employees more accountable
Track Every Idea, Every Dollar, Every Month. A good tracking system must answer four questions: Who is accountable for delivering financial benefits on time and on budget? What are the specific actions and financial benefits that must be delivered? When will the actions be completed, and when will the benefits begin? Why are specific benefits different than promised? You must have someone who is in charge of tracking, and that person must have the authority to determine whether ideas are, in fact, delivering the promised financial value.
The Golden Rule — Withdraw and Replace. If an idea is going to fail, then the owner of the idea needs to get approval to withdraw it. To get that approval, the owner also needs to replace the withdrawn idea with a new idea that will deliver the promised hard dollars.
Follow the Money All the Way to the Budget. Remember “Put a price tag on everything”? If you follow the money all the way to the end, it takes the form of valuing each idea by line item. This level of budgeting precision does more than ensure that you can incorporate the value of ideas into your budgets and track them. It also creates the rigor needed to promise hard dollars.
Don’t Let Someone Else Dictate the Value of the Ideas You Implement. No one would think of getting approval for using outside vendors without getting a price. Similarly, no one should get approval for using internal support without getting a price. Do not let anyone make financial commitments that someone else has to deliver.
Want to Actually See the Earnings? Lock the Vault. Many companies complain of the “water balloon” effect — costs get pushed down in one place only to rise in another. There is a simple reason that this happens. The improvement process provides discipline to a source of new funds, but there is not sufficient discipline applied to the use of funds. Lock the new earnings in a vault that can be opened only by submitting new ideas through the same rigorous idea process described above.
Track Your Position Plan. Position tracking shows the variance, by position title and job grade, between the exact number of positions one should have and the number actually in the payroll system. It is very helpful to ensuring that the costs pushed down in one place don’t bulge out, water balloon style, somewhere they shouldn’t. Variances occur only when managers are not willing to promise benefits, but they still want to hire.
It’s Not What You Start; It’s What You Finish. There are more worthwhile projects than there is time to accomplish them all. Change the focus from the common projects in process to the important projects finished.
Make Sure You Get the Return. You likely know how much you have invested in technology in the past three years. Do you know the actual benefits that have been delivered to the bottom line? Do you know how the actual results compare to the original promises? Is someone tracking it? If not, then no one is being held accountable ... and that is a problem.
Learn From Your Mistakes. An after-action report tracks promises versus delivery and provides the reasons why projects fall behind or deliver less than expected. You may find it unpleasant to rehash failure, but the rigor and discipline are important parts of transparency