3 Tools for Effective Employee Recruitment

Acquiring talent is a process just like any other in your company. The entire recruitment process is a sometimes long and arduous one, and therefore it is a magnet for shortcuts and rushing. Don’t give into the temptation to save a few hours of time and end up with bad candidates that cost your company thousands in the long run.

Tools You Must Utilize When Recruiting

Every recruitment effort should utilize the following three tools as the first three steps in the process:

1. Job Profile: Completely define the position as the very first step in the recruitment process. Use the job profile to identify and communicate the job description, key performance indicators, accountabilities, detailed reporting structure, internal and external customers, required competencies, critical success factors, and key process ownership.

2. Advertisement: Posting a position is supposed to attract the candidate’s attention over all the others, qualify appropriate candidates, and screen out bad ones. It is important to know where the most success is happening for the type of position and level of person you want to recruit.

3. Assessments: Employee assessment tools are an important component in your overall hiring process because it is an objective rather than subjective measurement tool. While they do not provide you will all the information you need, they do provide you with critical information you cannot get from an interview and can increase your likelihood of making a better decision. By using an objective tool, you can compensate for subjective techniques such as interviewing questions where question and answering can vary greatly and leave a lot of room for variation in opinions, different interpretation, inconsistency in application, and more chances for you to make mistakes in the process.  We have found that proper application of assessment tools can help you:

  • Save a huge amount of time.
  • Level the playing field on resumes.
  • Reduce some human errors.
  • Improve the number of qualified candidates.
  • Increase the quality of candidates that make it to interviewing stage.

Have you tried recruiting without using these three tools? What was the outcome?

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at (877) 692-6211 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

12 Signs of Fanatical Focus on Employees

During my many leadership coaching projects, I have noticed a few things that all growth companies have in common. One of the most impactful of these common traits is fanatical discipline about their people. Do you have it?

You can say your company is fanatical about employee development if you have the following in place:

  • A clear understanding of how many people are required to achieve your company strategy.
  • An organizational chart that maps out those positions critical to your strategy.
  • Detailed job profiles for each position that identify the expected results, key success factors and the characteristics of the ideal candidate.
  • Annual updates of job profiles.
  • A process of screening candidates that allows only qualified candidates to get to the interviewing stage.
  • Training in the latest interviewing techniques to greatly minimize the opportunity to hire the wrong person.
  • An interview and background check process that includes a full development, training and coaching process ready for the new hire as soon as they come on board.
  • A 90-day ramp-up process that helps all new hires integrate with the team and start their employee development process.
  • A staffing plan that identifies potential position growth and replacement needs.
  • A process for building a ready bench of “A” players so you can expeditiously fill positions as needs arise.
  • A method to systematically eliminate “B” and “C” players from the staff and from the recruiting process.

Being fanatical about employee development takes time, patience and discipline. You must make the choice to build an employee base that is a true business asset. This requires a strategic process for recruitment and development, and a strict adherence to the process by leaders at all levels of the company.

Is your company fanatical about its people? Why or why not?

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach who works with companies that need employee development and business management coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides strategic planning and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about employee development through AGI, please visit activategroupinc.com, contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

The Recruiting Mistake Made by 99% of Companies

Recruiting is an art that few have mastered. At AGI, we work with many companies to create systems for Human Capital Management—for each company a customized strategic system for managing employees through every stage of their employment, from recruiting to retention. When we evaluate a company’s employee processes, one of the first things we look at is recruitment.

Recruiting “A” players is the goal of most HR professionals, but recruitment is one of the areas where many miss the boat completely. That’s because 99 percent of companies start the recruitment process with the wrong tool: the resume.

Starting the candidate evaluation process by reviewing resumes is one of the biggest mistakes you can makes. Here’s why:

  1. Resumes aren’t accurate. Let’s face it, the resume is the most overinflated self-promotion tool invented. Most resumes are embellished heavily and some are flat-out inaccurate.
  2. Resumes don’t reveal personality. Resumes are, at best, clinical lists of accomplishments and experiences. They tell you almost nothing about a person’s attitudes or working style.
  3. Resumes encourage bias. Formatting, language, word choice, past employers, schools—whatever. All of these things can trigger an irrational “like” or “dislike” of a candidate that could very well be the “A” player you are looking for.

Use Talent Assessment Tools

After posting an open position, the next step of the recruitment process should be assessment testing. Candidate assessment tool like Topgrading provide revealing and unbiased information about a candidate’s natural abilities and inherent skills—these are the most important qualifiers for the successful matching of candidates to jobs.

A resume should be used only as a guide for interviews and a tool for sharing potential candidates with the hiring manager and other decision-makers. Using resumes as the first step in qualifying candidates will definitely make you pass over “A” players.

Howard Shore is a human capital management expert who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides leadership and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about human capital management through AGI, please contact Howard at [phone link=”true”] or email him.

The Importance of Defining Employee Roles

Defining Employee Roles

The dynamics of your employee teams are defined by many factors, all of which determine their efficiency and effectiveness. One of the most important factors, in my experience, is defining employee roles.

In my system for Human Capital Management (the process of managing employees from recruitment to retention), I place a huge amount of focus on defining the roles of each and every employee. This starts with the job posting and carries through into an individual’s day-to-day responsibilities. As a long-time management coach, I have seen first-hand how mindfully defining each employee’s role, responsibilities and success metrics creates more success on the team and within the overall company.

I read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review last month that really drove this point home. The article summarized a study completed by the author, Tamara Erikson, on team dynamics at the BBC and Reuters. She found that successful collaboration was better on teams when each employee’s role was clearly defined. She found that defining individual roles impacted collaboration success more than spelling out the group’s approach.

Erikson noted, “Without such clarity, team members are likely to waste energy negotiating roles or protecting turf, rather than focusing on the task.”

Carry this idea over into employees’ everyday tasks. By clearly defining employee roles from the start, not only do we target and hire the best, most qualified candidates, but we also ensure their continued success by informing them exactly how that success will be determined and measured.

What Needs to be in Every Position Description

I have been a management coach for many, many years, and I can tell you that the biggest mistake that I see managers and recruiters make time and time again, is not clearly defining individual position tasks, responsibilities and success metrics. Increase your employee and team success rate by ensuring that for each position in your organization, you have a position description that includes:

  • Job Description: Collection of tasks and responsibilities that an employee is responsible for; includes an official title.
  • Job Tasks:  Unit of work or set of activities needed to produce some result (e.g., answering phones, writing a memo, sorting the mail, etc.).
  • Job Functions: A group of tasks is sometimes referred to as a function.
  • Role(s): The set of responsibilities or expected results associated with a job. A job usually includes several roles.
  • Competencies: Abilities (skills) and capacity required to perform the job successfully.
  • Performance Management: Defines how the position’s performance is measured and its impact from an organization perspective. All the components within the performance management perspective relate and provide context to one another.
  • Critical Success Factors (CSF): Provide focus on the influences that impact the performance of the job.
  • Key Process Ownership (KPO): Identifies the critical processes owned by the position.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Provide visibility to performance through the use of metrics and established performance targets; thereby giving context to vague concepts.
  • Career History: The background experience typically required in order to have gained the level of knowledge and competency required for the position.

Without defining these extremely important position attributes, you are failing to tell employees what they need to accomplish, and without that direction your employees and your team will not deliver the results that they could be delivering.

Howard Shore is a business coach and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about management coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at 305-722-7213 or email him.

Better Candidates With Better Job Descriptions

How do you know if you have the right person in the right position? How do you know if your employees and leaders are successful? How can you tell if they are achieving what you expect of them? More importantly, how do they know if they are focusing on the right activities? The truth is, unless you have defined realistic yet challenging success metrics for each position you have no better idea of your employees’ success rates than they do. This is the basis of Human Capital Management.

Creating employee success starts with the hiring process. It starts with writing the best possible job description—I call it a position profile. The difference between a standard job description and a position profile is huge.

Position Profile vs. Job Description

Typically, job descriptions are used in job posts to advertise an open position, to determine compensation, and/or to establish a basis for performance reviews. However, job descriptions are not constructed in a manner that allows for the vetting of potential candidates or the measuring of performance—a position profile does.

The position profile identifies a role in the context of the organization, and communicates the link between business strategy, internal processes and your people.

In short, a position profile:

  • Documents the expertise, skills and experience needed to perform the job
  • Communicates expectations for performance and results
  • Detailed description of the job from three key perspectives:
    • Supervisory (Strategy & Direction)
    • Employee (Role & Responsibilities)
    • Customer (Quality & Acceptance)

By clearly defining each employee’s role in the context of the organization, and providing detailed success metrics and milestones that employees and managers agree on, you will not only target the right candidates for open positions, but you will also understand your overall team performance.

To learn more about creating a performance-based talent system for your organization, download the free eBook on Human Capital Management from our homepage.

Howard Shore is a human capital management expert and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to their executive leadership. To learn more about human capital management through AGI, please contact Howard at [phone link=”true”] or email him.

Causing Your Own Underperformance

Causes of Underperformance in the Workplace

In every organization I have assessed, I have found the leading drivers of underperformance in the workplace are organizational recruiting and staffing effectiveness. The C-suite is the main cause of poor practices in those areas.

Generally accepted accounting principles do not have an expense line item called “Cost of Dumb Hiring Decisions.” If they did, it might well be the largest expense line item for many businesses, and companies would have to show a loss. Without taking into account bad hiring decisions and retention of ineffective staff members, current financial statements do not show the revenue you will never have, the market sector you never captured, and the excess costs you incurred because you did not spend enough time up front to really plan each new hire and then give each hiring decision 100% effort.

Performance vs. Underperformance

While the employee recruitment process is important, it is not the emphasis of this article. This article is about performance. The evidence is right in front of you on a daily basis. With only two people in the same position, you can get these varying outcomes:

  • Double or triple the difference in individual output.
  • Double the time managing one person versus the other.
  • Tons of time dealing with employee issues caused by one person while the other spurs other employees to rise up and increase productivity.
  • One person is able to do all of the assigned tasks assigned for the position while the manager must reassign some of the other person’s tasks in order to get them done.
  • One person works long hours, as necessary, without being asked while the other person leaves at “quitting time”, no matter what extra effort might be needed.

Managing Underperformance

With so much evidence that hiring the right people can have a dramatic impact on growth and profits, and that by hiring the right people you dramatically reduce your own stress, I have made this a personal mission to make it a top strategic priority.

When we work with a leadership team we ask leaders to rate their people on two dimensions: 1) consistently adhere to core values, and 2) meet or adhere to high performance standards for the position. Here is what we typically find:

  • Management has few yardsticks with which to measure the productivity of their employees. They have to guess, so it’s usually a popularity contest.
  • Management sets a low bar in terms of establishing standards for positions. We know this because the standards set are usually far lower than what the top performers achieve on a regular basis.
  • A high percentage of people do not really adhere to core values or meet performance standards, and management has decided to accept this behavior.
  • When we dig further into the accomplishments of people who management perceives as their top performers, we find that they may be performing well in some aspects (usually the pet peeves of the boss) but generally are not doing an exceptional job.

Signs That You May Be Causing Underperformance in Your Organization

Here are comments and questions I hear from leaders on a daily and weekly basis that tell me that they have left huge amounts money on the table over the years. If you are guilty of making any of these comments, it is time for organizational rehabilitation to maximize your firm’s value:

  • If someone is not hired by the time I get back from vacation, I will be really angry!
  • Why are you scheduling so many candidates for interview?
  • Why are we screening out so many candidates?
  • This recruiting process is too much work; just hire someone already.
  • A friend of mine says this person is great, so let’s bypass the process and get him/her in here.
  • That is not an important position; just hire someone.
  • Even though this is a great candidate, let’s see some more before we make a decision.
  • I know this person is not exactly what we need, but let’s hire them anyway. We can train and coach them to be what we want.
  • Why are you spending so much time with candidates?

Signs That You’re Influencing Higher Levels of Performance

Examples of comments that would indicate that leadership has made recruiting and performance a priority would include:

  • Too many bad candidates are getting through; let’s increase our screening criteria so we are interviewing better candidates.
  • We are going to treat every position as critical so we do not damage our culture.
  • We need to stick to our process or we are going to expose the company to unnecessary risk.
  • I would rather take longer to hire the right person than knowingly hire someone that does not meet our requirements.
  • What can we do to speed up the hiring process without compromising it?
  • After talking to candidates, is there a mismatch in our criteria that is causing us to slow down the process? For example, are we offering competitive compensation for the requirements we have put out there?
  • Does it look like we have created a position with requirements that have limited candidates? If so, how can we get creative to attract them to us?
  • What can we do to modify or change placement of our advertisements to attract better candidates?
  • Can you provide a report on the candidates we have had and reasons we have screened them out?

Learn How to Improve Employee Performance

An executive business coach can provide you with practical business processes and solutions to improve employee performance and accelerate your business growth. Contact Activate Group, Inc. to learn how to improve your growth potential or give us a call at [phone link=”true”].

Speed Up Recruiting

As you have seen in many of my blogs, I am not a recruiter. However, I believe that selecting talent is one of the keys to a successful organization. One of the reasons our clients sometimes struggle with sticking to the employee recruiting process is that most leaders have a high sense of urgency.

Reasons Why You Have a Slow Hiring Process

There are 4 reasons why hiring takes longer than desired:

  1. Failure to get good candidates into the process.
  2. Mishandling the candidates during the process.
  3. Finding the right fit – Candidate expectations are different than what we have to offer – Good candidate but they will not fit our company or specific job.
  4. Unrealistic expectations.

Let’s start with the last item first. Most people want to fill vacancies or replace poor performers immediately. However, just like selling, recruiting is a process. In order to get the candidates you want, you first have to fill up your recruiting funnel. Like it or not, the recruiting cycle (just like the sales cycle) has an average time frame. Sometimes we get lucky and close a deal sooner, and other times we take longer than we’d like. It is the latter that we spend our lives trying to speed up.

Steps to the Recruitment Process

The point of this article is first to understand that there is a cycle of steps to the recruitment process. Like any process, if you violate any steps, problems are going to arise and you will usually not get the outcomes you would like. The better you master each of the steps and the more disciplined the execution, the sooner you will see improved outcomes.

This sounds logical, yet many companies’ historical tendency has been to choose a candidate from whatever people are immediately available to them. This approach may achieve the desire to immediately fill a position but does not accomplish what a business person ultimate goal should be: to hire a person that fits their organization and will perform at high levels.

Making a Commitment to Recruiting

To get you to read further, I need to address one elephant that is usually in the room. To hire a person that fits the organization and will perform at high-levels takes hard work and discipline. Most leaders only see their immediate problem of replacing a poor performer or filling an open position. However, for every client I work with, the data is so huge that it takes a lot less work in the long-term to hire right the first time; not to mention the volumes of research showing that the top performers give you so much more productivity than an average performer. Committing to the hiring process should be a no-brainer.

How To Speed Up The Hiring Process

Here are some key ideas to speed up your recruiting and address the other 3 reasons why successful hiring takes longer:

  1. Spend the time up-front to fully understand the skills, behaviors, motivators, knowledge, and experience required of your ideal hire.
  2. Make sure that everyone in the hiring process agrees with and knows number 1.
  3. Advertise effectively. If you do not advertise often enough or in enough places, if your advertisement is not attractive to candidates, or you are advertising to the wrong audiences, you will not have enough candidates in the funnel.
  4. Stop using resumes as your initial screen. We have found that by using assessment and phone screens we are able to consider a lot more candidates and that many of the best candidates would have been lost had we used the resume first. In addition, resumes do not have the information we need and many of the good candidates get screened out.
  5. Monitor performance of each step in the process weekly to know if you have to make any changes. Many times there is a break in the process or there is a weakness that can go on for weeks and months before anyone does anything about it.
  6. If you are screening out a lot of candidates, ask “Why?” If the rejections are for the right reasons, there is nothing wrong with the process… be happy. Too often managers become frustrated when they see “too many candidates” coming through, so they attack the process, causing bad decisions.
  7. If you have followed a strong process: assessments, phone screen, in-depth interview, and tandem interviews, and the candidate is great, do not let him/her get away. I have seen too many companies lose good candidates because they want to see one more candidate for comparison.
  8. If you have someone in the process that is naturally indecisive, do not give them the final word.
  9. If you have someone with a history of bad hiring decisions, they should be removed from the process. History repeats itself. These are the people who consistently hire and reject candidates for the wrong reasons and will not follow the process.

As you look at hiring talent over the next year, ask yourself “Am I committed to hiring right or just hiring?” Hopefully you will choose the former. If you do, then your discussions around hiring will be more about how to improve the process and increase speed of the steps rather than causing you to hire the wrong person.

Cost of Hiring New Employees

It is not often that I hear my business coaching clients use “hiring new employees” and “strategy” in the same sentence. In fact, before hiring me and beyond the typical tactical issues with employees, it was rare for human resources issues to be considered during strategic planning meetings. I recently met with one of my clients regarding challenges they encountered in recruiting sales personnel, and it became obvious that their tactical issues were really related to their strategic model for hiring employees. Worse even than their tactical issues was the fact that it was costing them a huge amount of money to hire new staff members.

Commonly Overlooked Costs Associated With Hiring New Employees

Before discussing the strategic issues of my Miami coaching client and how we wrestled them to the table, I want to clarify what I mean by the “cost of hiring new employees”. Here are some costs you probably do not measure, and they are the big ones:

1. Hiring Success Rate

The lower your hiring success, the more people you have to hire to get a full set of performers. For example, if you need to add 10 people, but your hiring success rate is only 25%, you will ultimately have hired 31 people before you have the 10 people that will perform at your required performance levels.

2. Hiring & Performance Standards

Most companies are lowering their performance standards rather than raising their hiring standards. They get frustrated by their inability to recruit the right people and take whatever they find available. The lower performance requirements result in excess employees, lower customer service, more mistakes, lost opportunities, and lost customers.

3. Leadership Time

Leadership has to divert significant time to interview extra people, manage superfluous people, and address the performance-related issues of substandard employees. This brings far less value to the company than the leadership activities they would perform otherwise.

Unfortunately, there is no separate income statement line item for the above. In every company I have visited, the financial statement impact is huge when we start trying to quantify the above numbers. This is what I am referring to when I am concerned about the cost of hiring new employees:

How Business Strategy Impacts the Hiring Process

As I was working with one of my customers in Miami, they were explaining to me that 2,000 candidates had applied for 10 open sales positions over a 6-month period. They ended up being very disappointed with their results. Very few candidates were qualified. They had tried hiring a few new employees, several of whom never showed up for the first day, and, of the ones that did show up, they were not pleased.

They were looking at all the time that was passing and how much money the employee hiring process was costing them. They were losing money on sales that were not generated by having an open position, sales that were not generated by people that could not perform, and the cost of management time applied for recruiting. After reviewing their situation, we realized the situation was a strategy issue.

Considering All Factors in the Employee Recruitment Process

When developing a strategy, you need to consider the people decisions related to that strategy. In every company, there are several key positions that must be filled quickly in order to grow your business. In my client’s case the need was for additional salespeople. If your business model requires a unique individual (in other words, someone with a skill that is very unusual, hard to find, hard to attract, etc.) and you will need a lot of them to grow to the levels you want, you have a bad strategy. The solution to this is to change the model so that you will be able to staff your model.

My coaching client and I looked at the cost of hiring problem and realized that he was not considering all the factors in the recruitment process and addressing them wisely. In their case, they wanted people to work on a commission-only basis, be highly experienced in my client’s industry, and be a seasoned salesperson. It should not have been a big surprise that none of their ideal candidates were biting. The people that were biting required different internal support systems, and the company was not set up to help them be successful.

Understanding the Costs of Hiring the Employees You NEED

So here is how we attacked the problem. We broke down candidates into 3 groups: No Experience, Sales Experience/No Industry Experience, and Sales Experience with Significant Industry Experience. We then discussed the implications of risk, internal system support, ramp-up time required, compensation systems needed, and search strategy. What we learned from the process was that they had 4 different sales positions, two of which could not be successful without significant industry experience. Compensation needed to be very different for these people versus the others. We concluded that the client’s current internal systems and processes to support the strategy they had chosen were severely inadequate.

These revelations were critical. Failure to identify and address them would certainly have resulted in continued frustration. By addressing the disconnect between how they were approaching people decisions, their operations, and their strategy, my client was in a much better position for success. This was a clear case where the cost of hiring new employees was much greater than they realized.

Improve Your Hiring Strategy

Howard Shore is an executive coach and founder of Activate Group Inc. based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver business coaching to improve executive leadership development. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at [phone link=”true”].

Hiring the Right Employees

Hiring the right employees for your business can be a challenge. Most of my clients in Miami and Fort Lauderdale were adamant that they have excellent recruiting processes. The people they hired went through rigorous interviews, had great backgrounds, and should be performing at expected levels. However, the key performance indicators were telling a different story.

Underperforming Employees

Dismissing the usual answer — “the employee must have lied during their interview” — we dug deeper and asked these key questions:

  • Are expectations clear?
  • Are expectations realistic?
  • Is management sending mixed messages?
  • Does the person have the tools to do their job well?
  • Is the organization creating any barriers preventing them from doing their job well?

Hiring the Right People for the Wrong Jobs

After asking all the key questions, management realized they were hiring the right employees, but for the wrong jobs. The people they hired were a good fit for their core values and were well-credentialed. They just were not what these companies needed in order to produce the required outcomes for the jobs at hand. We see this all the time!

Management does not spend enough time really understanding the true attributes needed in the person to successfully fill the position. When attempting to hire the right people, there are many considerations in terms of experience, skills, talent, behavioral profile, and values needed to fill the role. In most cases, management fails to think this through before they hire the employee. Sometimes ,they go through the work of identifying what is needed and then fail to be patient in looking for candidates that completely fill those requirements. The result is a wrong hire.

Employee Recruitment Process

If you want to increase your success with hiring the right employees, it is imperative that you answer these questions before beginning your recruiting process. Make sure that everyone involved in the selection process knows the answers to these questions, and measure your hiring decisions against how well the candidates match the criteria. For those of you reading this and saying that you’ll take attitude over credentials any day, I say you better get both.

Key Questions for the Employee Hiring Process:

Ensuring You Hire the Right Employees for the Right Job

  1. What is the title of the position?
  2. What is the brief description of the position? In other words, what would not happen in this company if this position did not exist?
  3. What are the 3 to 5 most important measurable and specific goals/objectives this person will be held accountable to achieve?
  4. Who are the customers/clients that this position serves, and how do those customers/clients measure service?
  5. What key processes does this position own, and how do you measure that the process is working properly?
  6. What other key/critical processes are associated with the position, and how do you measure that the person in this position is doing their part well?
  7. Does the position have any certification and/or licensing requirements?
  8. What is the position responsible for and what is it accountable for?
  9. Who has input in this person’s performance review, determines their compensation/raises, and is responsible to help them develop?
  10. What do you see as the biggest challenges to success in this position and what steps must be taken to address them?
  11. What are the minimum qualifications for the position in terms of education, functional experience, and industry experience?
  12. What specific industry knowledge does this person need to have?
  13. What capabilities must the applicant be proficient in or excel at to be successful?
  14. What would you say are the critical obstacles for those filling the position, and what are the steps that must be taken to address them.
  15. Describe the ideal person for this position in terms of how they address new decisions/challenges, interact with people, deal with pace in the environment, and approach rules and procedures?
  16. How many subordinates does the position have? Describe the relationship this position has with it subordinates (e.g. can they hire and fire people?)

Results of Creating Proper Job Positions

Our clients have found their hiring success has improved dramatically once they have made a proper commitment to job design and position profiling. Only after you answer these questions should you begin your recruiting processes. The answers to these questions will help you have a much better mental picture of the ideal person. Without this information it becomes hard to screen out candidates as the ideal person is too vague.

An executive and business coach can provide you with practical business processes and solutions to accelerate your business growth. Call to learn how to improve your growth potential by contacting Activate Group Inc. at [phone link=”true”].

How to Successfully Clarify Employee Roles

One of our clients has experienced major improvements in both employee productivity and turnover over a six-month period. Achieving these improvements took less effort than one would think. After evaluating their original situation, we were able to narrow their productivity and turnover issues down to a root cause: accountability. More specifically, the real culprit was that there was little or nothing to hold people accountable to.

Key Questions to Ask to Help Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

We followed a simple but telling diagnostic process. We asked the leadership team to complete some management tools we use to answer the following questions:

  • What are all the roles in your company?
  • Who is in charge of each role?
  • What leading and lagging measures tell you that each role is functioning well? Are you measuring them?
  • What are the top 5 to 9 processes in your company?
  • Who is in charge of each process?
  • What leading and lagging measures tell you that each process is functioning well? Are you measuring them?
  • For each position in your company, have you identified each person’s top 5 accountabilities?
  • How will you measure that the accountabilities are met? Are you even measuring them?
  • How did you measure whether they were getting done?

Understanding Expectations at the Organizational Level

The specific answers to these questions were less important than what the management team learned about themselves. They had not thought through what they expected from everyone. They did not agree on what everyone should be doing. Most people were not focused on what they needed to be focused on. Many key issues were not being addressed by anyone because no one felt it was their responsibility. Most importantly, the majority of the employees were working really hard on the wrong things. People that had previously been considered star performers were actually performing poorly and vice versa.

As I dug a little deeper, I found there was a leadership mindset underlying all of these problems. It is actually a common small-company mentality: “We do not want anyone to say ‘that is not my job’.” It comes from a “start-up” mindset where everyone does everything because they have to. That is true in the “start-up” phase, but a company is best served by moving away from that mindset as quickly as it can.

Evaluating Employee Roles Annually

Roles need to grow with the company, and the leadership team needs to reevaluate roles at least annually in the earlier years, sometimes even more often as the company and its needs evolve. While teamwork should always be encouraged, it is always important to make sure that people are held accountable to do their jobs and that the company has the proper resources and roles in place to achieve its goals.

Accountability vs. Responsibility

Holding Employees Accountable

It starts with accountability versus responsibility. The person who is accountable gives something voice and is answerable when something does not get done. This person may or may not be responsible for doing the physical task. When there is more than one person assigned accountability for the same outcome, you have given the opportunity for either one to claim that it was the other person’s fault.

Holding Employees Responsible

Responsibility is different from accountability because it can be shared and delegated. In both responsibility and accountability, it is important to assign them to a person that has the skills, knowledge, experience, and ability to get what you need done. While attitude and effort is great, if what you need is a rocket scientist and you the assign the project to someone with a below-average IQ, you cannot expect a successful outcome. If you assign the marketing function to someone with no marketing training or experience, you should know what you are going to get.

Carry this idea over into employees’ everyday tasks. By clearly defining employee roles from the start and what outcomes will define success, it becomes very clear who should fill those roles. In addition, I found that unqualified people back out or quit rather quickly when we have made it clear what is expected from the position and what the consequences are for not meeting those expectations.

In my previous article, “The Importance of Defining Employees Roles”, I have already articulated for you what should be in a position description. I recommend that you cover all of those points when defining your position. In the end, the position profile, scorecard, and holding people accountable serve as tools for motivation, reward, and feedback. Failure to use these tools leads to mediocrity.

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