Best Practices

Let’s Get Smart: Employee Accountability and Leadership

By Richard Voreis

SMART is an acronym that can help you remember to create action plans that are about employee accountability:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-framed

Specific: Action plans need to be concise because generalities don’t get the job done. Make sure they are easily understood because nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.

Measurable: They should also be quantified so they can be evaluated to determine if progress is being made. What gets measured gets accomplished.

Achievable: Make them realistic and achievable by employees.

Relevant: Stay focused on achieving the company’s top priorities and the employee’s.

Time-framed: Expect accomplishment by the specific dates established and agreed upon.

Also, SMART companies are making a sharp break from old habits and traditional processes, and are deliberately adopting new behaviors. They’re embracing change in order to build not only a company where the best people want to work, but one where the best customers want to do business. They’re retaining their outstanding employees in a career path, keeping their valued customers and attracting new customers.

It’s just SMART business.

We also need to remember that leadership contributes to the successful achievement of these goals. Managers and supervisors must strive to be leaders—those who have a high personal standard for others to follow. They must also:

  • Emphasize to everyone the importance of achieving company top priorities and action plans;
  • Facilitate the achievement of action plans and eliminate obstacles;
  • Recognize people for effective performance;
  • Give special recognition and rewards to outstanding performers;
  • Be good communicators;
  • Insist on the highest achievement levels; and
  • Focus on the wants and needs of the customers.

The terms “leadership” and “management” often are used interchangeably, but there is a huge difference between them. Hopefully, people in these positions can also strive to be leaders.

Leaders aren’t always managers and vice versa. It’s rare an individual has both of these traits. They have very different skill sets, both critical to success in any business.

Leaders have a unique ability to rally employees around a vision. They establish buy-in, commitment and ownership to the vision, too. A leader’s belief in the vision is so strong that employees will naturally want to “follow the leader.” They also tend to be willing to take risks in pursuit of the vision.

On the other hand, managers and supervisors are more adept at executing the vision in a systemic way and directing employees on how to get the job done. They can see the process of how to get it done and then manage employees to the end result. Managers and supervisors usually are risk-ad-verse, too.

Interestingly, if a pure manager is expected to lead a company, then that company could possibly be managed into failure. Micro-managing is a classic example of what I’m talking about. While it’s true some managers can inspire and some leaders can systemically manage the process, these are not their basic strengths. It’s SMART to be an outstanding leader, but that’s much easier said than done.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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