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Common Sense 101

Michael Roman - Tuesday, August 06, 2013

In graduate school, they taught us that being smart was not always about understanding science, or even the power of science.  As my major professor, Dr. Kelly Wells, would say, “Sometimes common sense is more important than science.” In the mid-1970s, when we participated at Motocross tracks in the heat and humidity of the summer in South Georgia, the weather was similar to that in Vietnam, and science was not necessary to remind me to stay hydrated.  It did not take science to understand that that a product containing water, minerals, and sugar was a benefit for hydration.  The label on Gatorade told that story, as did the advertising at the 7-11 stores. When Dr Wells had me purchase six bottles (one for each competition event for us both) there, we did not need to understand the science behind it; we just needed to know which end of the bottle to open to drink it. Common sense!

So instead of discussing the science behind an ERP implementation in this blog, let us instead take a look at the top three questions that will help you know if your ERP System implementation is complete. They are all common sense.

Question 1: Do KPIs measure employee performance as they deploy the ERP System on a daily basis? THINK ABOUT IT.  KPIs establish performance goals. You want to know when your people are on track (doing what you need them to do in the business system).  The industry calls these Key Performance Indicators or KPI.  At Manufacturing Practices, we like the acronym but we have adopted a second meaning: Keeping People Involved.  Using these types of measurements, employees know what the management team expects from them and where they are performing against those goals. Why not measure performance by assessing KPIs in your organization?  Shouldn’t your ERP System define those measures?

Question 2: Do your teams openly and freely communicate between different departments, or only through rigid, scheduled regular meetings?  If they do not communicate freely and openly, the C Level teams at the organization are probably the problem. So look first at the C Level people in the organization.  Do they foster teamwork or not?  Departments run much like the upper management to whom they report.  Where there is a spirit of open and complete cooperation, departments follow suit.  Where that does not exist, chicanery and deceit often follow.  Do not foster that atmosphere in your organization.

Question 3: Do your people share information by running reports from your ERP System? Do they ask for information in the form of spreadsheets from other departments? Look to see how people respond to your request for information.  Do they sit at a computer and look for specific reports, or do they pick up the phone and ask someone to build a spreadsheet for the requested information?  A properly implemented ERP System will have most requested information available in a report.  If the report does not exist, it can be built.  If it cannot be built, it is because the data does not exist in the system.  More than likely, information to answer most business needs already exists in a properly implemented ERP System, and no one needs to drink Gatorade to relieve the stress of sweating out an answer to the boss’ questions.

SCIENCE & PSYCHOLOGY 101

Michael Roman - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In keeping with last week’s blog about applying science to ERP Selection and Implementation, this week’s article discusses the application of measurements in those same efforts. The twist, however, is that the real effectiveness of scientific measurement in the workplace has a lot to do with psychology, more specifically our own sense of self-awareness. In Natalie Angier’s book,  Mirrors Don’t Lie. Mislead? Oh Yes, (Publisher: The New York Times, July 22, 2008), she states, “Researchers have determined that mirrors can subtly affect human behavior, often in surprisingly positive ways. Subjects tested in a room with a mirror have been found to work harder, to be more helpful and to be less inclined to cheat, compared with control groups performing the same exercises in nonmirrored settings. Reporting in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, C. Neil Macrae, Galen V. Bodenhausen, and Alan B. Milne found that people in a room with a mirror were comparatively less likely to judge others based on social stereotypes about, for example, sex, race or religion.” 

The study continues, “’When people are made to be self-aware, they are likelier to stop and think about what they are doing,' Dr. Bodenhausen said. 'A byproduct of that awareness may be a shift away from acting on autopilot toward more desirable ways of behaving.'  In other words, self-awareness is an important first step in accountability.’”

Of course this is far from being a revolutionary piece of information. In fact, not even close.  Henry Ford knew a very long time ago that you do not control what you do not measure. He employed that principle in his workplace by creating bar charts that showed worker productivity against acceptable high and low ranges.  He used the same method for reporting quality concerns, days cargo was on the water, or anything and everything he wanted to improve.  Mr. Ford charted, measured, and established acceptable and unacceptable, low and high benchmarks.

So again… this stuff is not new! Henry Ford used it around a hundred years ago, and it still works today!

With all that said, here is how we use scientific measurement at Manufacturing Practices Inc., part 1.  We establish benchmarks and time limits for our ERP Selection process activities, as well as our ERP Implementation process activities.  We do that for the client’s Management team, the client’s User team, the ERP Vendor, and Manufacturing Practices’ team. During the ERP Implementation, we assist our clients in using these measures to establish performance goals during the ERP software use.  The industry calls these Key Performance Indicators or KPI.  At Manufacturing Practices, we like the acronym but we have adopted a second meaning: Keeping People Involved.  Using these types of measurements, employees know what the management team expects from them and where they are performing against those goals.

The downside to not using KPI is loss of a quantifiable measurement of progress. In Ms. Angier’s book, she notes that according to studies, people often have better opinions of themselves than others have of them. Left to their own, they will score themselves better than data actually reports. This research suggests quantifiable data (KPI) keeps favorable opinions from interfering with actual results.  To Manufacturing Practices, Inc. this means management should set goals; and with user involvement, set acceptable high and low limits for all performance measurements to Keep People Involved, and in the process, reach the goals that management establishes.

Mike

Get the book that tells the full story.  The Turnaround is the story of a manufacturing company struggling to stay afloat, Mike Roman CPIM, a management consultant, helps the company's owners and management team discover the right path for turning near-catastrophe into a brighter future. The challenges they face in this tale mirror those of so many organizations today; challenges such as the silos of information within their four walls that prevent them from addressing problems as a strong, functional, team. Mike's mission was to help the company prosper again by finding solutions that benefit the entire organization -- and not a single department or the loudest voice.  Click here to review & Purchase  

Science and Quality of Life

Michael Roman - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Last week, I surfed the web looking for more pearls of wisdom from one of my favorite scientists, Neil DeGrasse Tyson; and I found a good one. It was an interview conducted by Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert about why science is important to everyone.  It is rather long, but in two sections of the interview, he made some excellent points that were particularly relevant to my work.  You would no doubt enjoy the entire interview, and if you like, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXh9RQCvxmg.

The first section runs from about minute 9:10 to about 17:37 and discusses whether scientific knowledge is a good thing.  Dr. Tyson explains that “not knowing” causes a person to “miss out” on a better quality of life, a perspective that I believe has a direct relationship to the work we perform at Manufacturing Practices, Inc.  Our goal is to understand the science of finding and implementing ERP Systems, i.e., business management systems, and to convey that knowledge to our clients. Our expertise spans 4 decades, and over that time we have perfected the five areas of focus that are of strategic importance to manage an ERP projects successfully.   Those areas are Leadership, Education, Commitment, Training, and Involvement -- all subjects covered in detail in our blogs.

More recently, Lee Ellis has presented a number of Leadership blogs based on his experiences at the Hanoi Hilton. You may want to read his book (Leading With Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton), or you can browse our blogs to find Lee’s musings (http://www.manufacturingpractices.com/BlogRetrieve.aspx?BlogID=419).

Just after minute 17:37 to 20:03, in Dr. Tyson’s interview, there is a discussion of why science fails. Dr. Tyson states that it is the misunderstanding of science that leads to its distrust.  In our experience, we see resistance resulting from misunderstanding. Our answer to that misunderstanding and distrust was and will always be the proper education of both the management team and the company’s user community.  As Dr. Tyson says, “Just because you don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean it is bad for you.”  Management teams and their user communities are much more capable of understanding what they do not know after our education programs.  

In this second section, Dr. Tyson and Colbert discuss one of the laws that Arthur C. Clarke postulated about sufficiently advanced technology. One part of that law states that such technology is indistinguishable from magic. So, our blog focus for the next few weeks will be to remove the “magic” from our advanced technology of ERP Implementation success. We will discuss the importance of science in understanding what is behind ERP Implementation success. It is not an art, and it is not rocket science. It is just plain science; or in the words of Dr. Tyson, it is “proper science management”.

Hopefully, these discussions clarifying the science of ERP Implementation will prepare you for a "better quality of life" for your company, your management team and your user community.


Leadership Part 6

Michael Roman - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Blog by Lee Ellis

Here’s the scene. Joe Staff Member is on your team, and you’ve done all of the right things to develop a healthy relationship of accountability; you’ve clarified, mentored, coached, checked in, and supported. For whatever reason, though, Joe still isn’t producing results that match his competency. So, it’s time to take action.

In the five previous blogs on accountability, we’ve been following a process to insure that you—the leader—have done your part to help your team members succeed. You should’ve been giving honest feedback by engaging with Joe along the way, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to him.

As you deliver the news, make sure that you and Joe have a clear picture that accountability is a win in four directions: a win for the organization, a win for you the leader, a win for the team, and a win for the individual. Done right, it’s going to be part of the growth process to help him perform better or find a line of work where his talents and passion are better suited. Just as important, you grow as a leader as you gain experience and confidence in respectfully and firmly holding people accountable for their performance and behaviors in the workplace. 

Here are some practical action steps to follow as you move forward –

Have a mindset about what needs to happen.

The leader who is holding someone accountable for poor performance (or bad behavior) must consider the rational and emotional components. Presenting the facts and specifics is essential and should not be difficult if you’ve made a few performance notes along the way. Dealing with the emotional/feelings part is often the biggest challenge.

Keep in mind that negative feedback always stings—our egos are tender. So, think through how you’re going to say things. If you are by nature not a “feelings” person, then discuss your approach with someone else who is more experienced and more sensitive than you are. Your critique should be fact-based dealing with specific issues and not an attack on the person.

Even those of us who don’t acknowledge feelings much can struggle with telling someone what they don’t want to hear. We must have the courage to deliver the unpleasant message and the consequences—some tough love— that go with unmet expectations. Anything less leads to a dysfunctional relationship and an unhealthy organization.   

1. Plan your approach and get counsel

Good execution starts with good planning.  Here are four steps to remember:

a. Consider your options for consequences.

b. Discuss the situation with your manager.

c. Discuss with your HR rep/consultant.

d. Get your mindset right. Your goal is to be factual, logical, reasonable and firm.

2. Meet with the individual

These specific guidelines will help ensure the best meeting possible:

a. Meet privately in your space and on your terms.

b. Demonstrate a respectful and caring attitude toward the person.

c. Explain the problem and indicate how expectations and agreements were not met.

d. Ask what the person sees as the cause of the problem. Listen carefully, and don’t defend or get into arguments.

- Expect rationalization and don’t fall for it. You’ve done your homework and you don’t want to let them off the hook. Stick to your plan unless there’s some significant problem that you weren’t aware of. 

a. Restate your concerns and underscore that performance (or behavior) has not been acceptable.

b. Lay out next steps for moving ahead (consequences, rules, expectations).

In this step, your goal is to get the person’s attention, re-motivate them, and get them back on track—or get them on a path out of your organization.

3. Follow through

Unfortunately, some adults can still operate as they did in a dysfunctional childhood; they may assume you weren’t really serious and that you’ll forget and let the matter drop. Here are four follow-through reminders –  

a. Stay engaged and walk through the process.

b. Communicate your commitment and firmness

c. Provide encouragement.

d. Be respectful and firm.

Some closing thoughts on accountability

Accountability is really at the heart of leadership, because it’s the best way to insure success for both people and the organization.  As a leader, one of the most helpful guidelines I ever learned (and I have to keep coaching myself on it) was: Don’t procrastinate taking action or let things slide. Always move toward a problem; things never get better on their own. Your role is to initiate action to keep things on track. That’s what accountability is all about.

So how are you doing with accountability? Is there a Joe Staff Member on your team that needs to be addressed?  What wisdom can you share in this forum on ways that you’ve helped grow your people into a “healthy”, accountable organization? 

LE

 —–
Lee Ellis 
is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC® & FreedomStar Media™.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

 He is the author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton

Perfect Spaghetti Sauce

Michael Roman - Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blick, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, and Outliers The Story of Success, is a respected author, thinker and speaker.  Gladwell also believes in paying it forward.  In April of 2004, he delivered a lecture and honored Psychophysicists Howard Moscowitz.  In the lecture, he drew attention to a fact that has far-reaching impact to many areas of society.  In summary, he points out that in their quest for happiness people often look for ‘perfection.’ They look for the perfect spaghetti sauce, the perfect mustard, or the perfect hamburger.  According to Mr. Gladwell, Dr. Moscowitz finds that those searches will never be fruitful, because there is no perfect spaghetti sauce, perfect mustard, or perfect hamburger; there are only perfect spaghetti sauces, perfect mustards and perfect hamburgers.  In other words, people were looking for something elusive because our preferences group into clusters, and people should look for the cluster that is most satisfying to them.

It is my belief that the same is true for companies looking for business management tools such as the integrated enterprise business management tools that are ERP Systems.  Companies search for the ‘Best ERP System’ when they should be looking for the ERP System that is best for their business.

I also believe that this is why the success rate for ERP implementation is low, as shown in research. That research shows that few companies gain any benefits, so why try?  It is because a small percentage of companies are successful; and successful companies have a HUGE competitive advantage in the marketplace.  Those companies focus the business around using the ERP Systems to help them:

  • Increase inventory turns
  • Decrease inventory investment
  • Increase customer on-time shipments
  • Decrease customer relationship concerns
  • Increase production throughput
  • Decrease production delays
  • Increase commonality in subassembly parts
  • Decrease re-inventing the wheel

Successful companies use the ERP System that fits them the best; and when they do, that system adds directly to increasing profits and a better position in the marketplace.  The journey is not easy and requires commitment from both management and staff, so before taking on the project, do what successful companies do and prepare the organization for the journey. Think of it as going to the beach; you don’t just ‘go to the beach’ without preparing. Everyone has a much more enjoyable time when they prepare for their time on the beach by taking towels, sunscreen, sunglasses, etc.

Company education about what ERP will do for and to you, is the best place to start your journey. While ERP sales teams show the bells and whistles, they often play Tom Sawyer while you ‘white wash’ their fence and they avoid discussing the journey. Sometimes they blow benefits out of proportion, which suppresses the discussion about the pitfalls associated with the ERP implementation.  Once the company compares the cost of education to the cost of failure, education becomes a cost that few companies decide to skip.

Skipping ERP education is like trying to make good spaghetti sauce with no instructions or recipe to follow. You can be sure that the result will be far from perfect.

The Joke's on Me

Michael Roman - Wednesday, July 03, 2013

This has been a rather strange month. Two surgeries, two funerals, and many jokes from my veteran friends and well-wishers for a speedy recovery both before and after the surgeries.  One of those jokes struck home, and it goes something like this: A retired Command Sergeant Major, who was having difficulties finding employment in the civilian job market, was being interviewed by the Vice President of Human Resources for a C-Level position. When he was asked to name his greatest weakness, the former military man immediately answered, “My honesty.”  The HR VP asked what in the world was wrong with being honest, adding that he thought honesty to be a great virtue.  The Command Sergeant Major said, “Why would I care what you think?”  End of interview.

I wonder if too often I am like that Command Sergeant Major – honest to a fault. As an example, just prior to my first surgery, I discussed an ERP Project Management role with a mid-sized manufacturing company.  With facilities in several countries and no current ERP system in any of their manufacturing sites, the scope of the project was right in my sweet spot. We had several phone interviews before the company invited me to meet the senior executives, who as it turned out were coming to Atlanta to meet at their business club not far from my office.

At the meeting, the CIO explained that he was the corporate sponsor for the project and that I would be working with his IT manager.  I explained to him that I was not interested in working with an IT manager on the project. We had already discussed the working relationship, and I had clearly expressed concern about defining the ERP implementation as an IT project and not as a corporate operations directive.

My comments surprised him.  I explained: “Different research efforts for these types of projects produce the same result.  Research suggests that companies that see ERP implementations as an IT project are not successful, and such projects do not create an ROI. To be successful, the operations (supply chain) teams, the customer service teams, the accounting teams, and the quality teams all need to have skin in the game.”  I further explained that research has proven that when the organization sees ERP implementation as an operational project rather than an IT project, success more often follows.

I also explained that the C-Level team would be shirking its management duties by moving project responsibility from their shoulders to a manager.  He responded that he was still the project sponsor and failure would not reflect well on him.  I told him I agreed with that analysis but added, “Project success rests with those committed to the project and not those who were simply involved in the project.  With the current situation, the C-Level team was clearly involved rather than committed to the project’s success.”

I could have ended the discussion there, but in typical Mike Roman fashion, I pressed forward with my honest evaluation by asking how many ERP projects the C-Level team had successfully completed. He said he did not have an answer to that question. I explained to him that I understood his response and suggested that the group do their homework before moving forward.

We were about to end the meeting when the Command Sergeant Major joke can to mind. I ended the discussions with the joke and explained that I was sorry we could not come to terms.  With that, I headed back to my office.  I slept well that night, sorry for not being able to reach terms with that organization but knowing full well that I was not involved in a situation that stood little to no chance for success.

Read the book that explains the secrets to a proper ERP implementation (or re-implementation).  To get the Kindle version of our book, click the link to purchase your copy of The Turnaround.

Simple Algorithms & ERP

Michael Roman - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel H. Pink writes that there are two types of problem solving tasks, algorithmic and heuristic. An algorithmic task is one in which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion. A heuristic task is the opposite. Precisely because no algorithm exists for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution. For example, working as a grocery checkout clerk is mostly algorithmic while a design engineer’s work is mostly heuristic, that being to come up with something new.

I mention this because I remain puzzled at the less than stellar performance most small and mid-sized manufacturing and distribution companies achieve when attempting to implement an ERP System.  Most of these organizations mistakenly approach an ERP Implementation as a heuristic task when our experience shows it to be a simple algorithmic task.  Possible reasons for their ineffective approach are well documented and not surprising:

  • Lack of leadership and commitment from the C- Level Team
  • Improper understanding of the necessary processes
  • Inability to muster necessary resources to address the issues
  • Lack of properly identifying tasks
  • Inadequate deadline setting for completion of activities

Education resolves most of these issues and is at the heart of what Manufacturing Practices, Inc. achieves when assisting with an ERP Implementation project.  After the initial assessment and agreement on the process, Manufacturing Practices implements a simple, proven method for success.  The process starts with education of the Top Management team and development of a statement of goals and an agreed upon approach with the project details.  A statement of the problem by Top Management to the users follows that activity, and then a statement of the goals by Top Management to the users follows that.  The Top Management team then explains why user education is vital to the success of the project.  User education follows the next week and ends with a discussion of the project plans.  The execution of the project plan follows and is monitored during implementation.

The Manufacturing Practices approach has been a successful, replicable, and simple process used by more than 60 implementations and re-implementations of ERP Applications.  The number one reason for this success is that EDUCATION about what an ERP System will do both for and to the company happens before we accept an assignment.

For an in-depth look at what a typical ERP implementation looks like, read my new book, The Turnaround. It is available on Kindle, and here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Turnaround-ebook/dp/B00COOF0DC.

Pain Points

Michael Roman - Monday, June 17, 2013

For the past few months, I have experienced a relentless excruciating pain in my hip, measuring 8.5 (on a scale of 1 to 10) on the pain level chart. My doctor identified the problem with my hip, but was mystified by the amount of pain I was experiencing. Long story short, after stepping back and looking at other issues I am facing, the medical team discovered that my hernia was impinging on nerves in the hip and leg area, however improbable that might sound. Turns out that everything in that part of the body is connected, and after minor surgery last week to repair a hernia, the pain level was reduced from 8.5 to 2.5. The reduced pain has helped me regain my better disposition, and after more surgery next week on the hip, the pain will likely be reduced to little or nothing – and I can smile again.

In past roles as an operations and supply chain manager, I became familiar with the many “pain points” on the job. The biggest headaches were missing data, lack of KPIs, the lack of a frozen production period for completing customer orders, no master production schedule, insufficient information defined for BOMS and routings, and no integrated business management tool.  As a group, we approached these problems individually within each silo of information, as if they were unrelated. Of course, we were not effective in addressing these issues because we failed to realize the interdependence of those silos of information that had little interaction with one another.

All too often, we miss the source of the pain in an organization because the pain is coming from a problem area that we have not considered. ERP systems are designed to help businesses identify problem areas, but in a business with a less than fully functional ERP system, it is difficult to locate the source of the pain. In that instance, users must address the ERP system shortcomings before the company can identify the source of the problem and repair the damage.

Our approach to problem solving at Manufacturing Practices is a simple proven method for success, and it starts with education of the top management team about the most effective use of ERP. We work with them to develop a statement of goals and an agreed-upon approach to project details, and then a statement of the problem and goals is passed on to the users, with an emphasis on education. Education is vital to the success of an ERP project, so user education begins the first week and provides everyone a clear picture of the project plans. When companies fail to properly educate the top management team and the user community, there is little chance of everyone having the same understanding of the importance of the project plan, the KPIs, the necessity of frozen planning periods, and all the rest. Without proper education, companies deploy their ERP System to quiet the loudest voice or the bully in the organization while ignoring the greater good of the organization.

Without proper education, companies miss the boat on a whole series of management reporting that can alert a company to possible failures of important components or systems that may adversely affect customer relationships. Without proper education, management may not have access to important information about supplier performance, supplier quality issues or supplier price performance.  Without proper education, missing customer delivery dates can occur, adversely affecting the customer relationship that might cost the company its future in the marketplace.

So take the steps with your ERP system that can eliminate the pain and lead to a full recovery. Use the system to help you discover those pain points and their relationships to other areas in the organization. If you do it right, you will reduce the overall pain level of your business and be able to smile again – and hopefully, all the way to the bank!

By the way, if you have read our more current blogs, you have noticed a number of LEADERSHIP articles written by Lee Ellis, a dear friend of mine who demonstrated the lessons of leadership at the Hanoi Hilton during his stay in North Vietnam. I asked him to grant me access to his blogs on leadership, which he graciously has done.  You may contact him by emailing contact@freedomstarmedia.com or go to his website http://www.freedomstarmedia.com/ .

On Leaders and Accountability-6

Michael Roman - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Guest Blog by Lee Ellis

Here’s the scene. Joe Staff Member is on your team, and you’ve done all of the right things to develop a healthy relationship of accountability; you’ve clarified, mentored, coached, checked in, and supported. For whatever reason, though, Joe still isn’t producing results that match his competency. So, it’s time to take action.

In the five previous blogs on accountability we’ve been following a process to insure that you—the leader—have done your part to help your team members succeed. You should’ve been giving honest feedback by engaging with Joe along the way, so this shouldn’t be a surprise to him.

As you deliver the news, make sure that you and Joe have a clear picture that accountability is a win in four directions: a win for the organization, a win for you the leader, a win for the team, and a win for the individual. Done right, it’s going to be part of the growth process to help him perform better or find a line of work where his talents and passion are better suited. Just as important, you grow as a leader as you gain experience and confidence in respectfully and firmly holding people accountable for their performance and behaviors in the workplace. 

 Here are some practical action steps to follow as you move forward –

 Have a mindset about what needs to happen.

 The leader who is holding someone accountable for poor performance (or bad behavior) must consider the rational and emotional components. Presenting the facts and specifics is essential and should not be difficult if you’ve made a few performance notes along the way. Dealing with the emotional/feelings part is often the biggest challenge.

 Keep in mind that negative feedback always stings—our egos are tender. So, think through how you’re going to say things. If you are by nature not a “feelings” person, then discuss your approach with someone else who is more experienced and more sensitive than you are. Your critique should be fact-based dealing with specific issues and not an attack on the person.

 Even those of us who don’t acknowledge feelings much can struggle with telling someone what they don’t want to hear. We must have the courage to deliver the unpleasant message and the consequences—some tough love— that go with unmet expectations. Anything less leads to a dysfunctional relationship and an unhealthy organization.   

 1. Plan your approach and get counsel

 Good execution starts with good planning.  Here are four steps to remember:

a. Consider your options for consequences.

b. Discuss the situation with your manager.

c. Discuss with your HR rep/consultant.

d. Get your mindset right. Your goal is to be factual, logical, reasonable and firm.

 2. Meet with the individual

 These specific guidelines will help ensure the best meeting possible:

a. Meet privately in your space and on your terms.

b. Demonstrate a respectful and caring attitude toward the person.

c. Explain the problem and indicate how expectations and agreements were not met.

d. Ask what the person sees as the cause of the problem. Listen carefully, and don’t defend or get into arguments.

- Expect rationalization and don’t fall for it. You’ve done your homework and you don’t want to let them off the hook. Stick to your plan unless there’s some significant problem that you weren’t aware of.

a. Restate your concerns and underscore that performance (or behavior) has not been acceptable.

b. Lay out next steps for moving ahead (consequences, rules, expectations).

 In this step, your goal is to get the person’s attention, re-motivate them, and get them back on track—or get them on a path out of your organization.

3. Follow through

Unfortunately, some adults can still operate as they did in a dysfunctional childhood; they may assume you weren’t really serious and that you’ll forget and let the matter drop. Here are four follow-through reminders –  

a. Stay engaged and walk through the process.

b. Communicate your commitment and firmness

c. Provide encouragement.

d. Be respectful and firm.

Some closing thoughts on accountability

Accountability is really at the heart of leadership, because it’s the best way to insure success for both people and the organization.  As a leader, one of the most helpful guidelines I ever learned (and I have to keep coaching myself on it) was: Don’t procrastinate taking action or let things slide. Always move toward a problem; things never get better on their own. Your role is to initiate action to keep things on track. That’s what accountability is all about.

So how are you doing with accountability? Is there a Joe Staff Member on your team that needs to be addressed?  What wisdom can you share in this forum on ways that you’ve helped grow your people into a “healthy”, accountable organization? 

LE

——————–
Lee Ellis 
is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC® & FreedomStar Media™.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

He is the author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton

On Leaders and Accountability

Michael Roman - Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Guest Blog by Lee Ellis

A momentous payoff has just occurred in your team as you’ve applied the guidance in this ongoing series of articles on accountability---your direct report has successfully accomplished his or her goal(s)! Things have gone well; as their leader, your expectations have been met and possibly exceeded.

So what do you do now? How do you celebrate? How do you affirm success? This is the time for you to come through by being accountable in your role as the chief motivator and affirmer in the organization. Although you may not innately be a motivator and affirmer, you know that it’s a critical element of team success.

Here are some tips to help you succeed in this area -   

 Be specific in your praise. Your goal is to be very specific in your affirmation; so before speaking, take time to reflect on what went well and what steps in the process made the work successful. Remember you want to recognize and “call out” what worked well so that you can reinforce the mindsets, behaviors, and attributes that you know will yield success again in the future. 

Be enthusiastic in your demeanor. It’s been said that communications are 20% verbal and 80% non-verbal, so your energy, tone and body language are all going to play a big role in communicating genuine satisfaction. It’s true—some people are naturally more expressive than others; so if being low key is part of your personality, then you’ll need to stretch your energy and emotions a bit. This may be your courage challenge and one you don’t want to fail. Regardless of where your natural level of enthusiasm falls, you will need to punch it up a notch to show your pleasure at the way things have turned out. A big smile, high fives, and good words of affirmation communicate positive emotions that inspire others with energy for the next challenge.

Debrief the mission. Set aside a few minutes to discuss what went right, what was learned, and what lessons can be used in the next challenging assignment. This is also a good time for you to ask for feedback on how helpful you were and what you might do in the future to better lead and manage your people and processes. Finally, be sure to listen for insights into the challenges your people are facing. You’ll want to reflect on those and see if there are organizational barriers or trends that you and your manager need to know about.

Consider the next challenge. Successful people are generally looking for their next challenge so be ready with a challenging assignment for the next step. Always keep in mind that one of your important leadership responsibilities is to develop your people. Be thinking about their next steps in their careers and how you can be preparing them for higher levels of responsibility.

Be fair and consistent in your affirmation. We humans have very sensitive egos and people notice what you are doing for others. They expect you to be at least as excited about their success as those of others. The way to nip office politics in the bud is to take care of the needs of each person individually as you work with them. Almost everyone is searching for validation at a very deep level to confirm that “My work has meaning; I’m valued; and I’m worth something.” Great leaders help people become successful and that means recognizing individual differences, helping people become successful and providing affirmation of their unique contribution. 

Evaluate your situation. Celebration is in a sad and pitiful state in many organizations. Many leaders are so busy they just knock down one goal and head on to the next one without taking time to celebrate. That’s an energy drain for the leader and the team.  Also, some folks don’t want to celebrate because they are afraid—yes, afraid that if they celebrate people will quit working hard and lower the standards. I say don’t let your fear take you out. Have the courage (and wisdom) to celebrate and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and that’s a nice thought, isn’t it?    

Where are you now? Are you providing affirmation and enthusiastic positive feedback to your folks as they achieve their goals?  Are you willing to ask your folks to give objective feedback on how well you are doing in this area?  If you stop and reflect on this, what could you be doing to better affirm and value your people?    

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC® & FreedomStar Media™.

He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments.

He is the author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

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