In a recent blog article, we revealed the average results for those businesses/organisations that had completed the Success Through People Scorecard (as at March 2022).

We saw that a couple of the areas most businesses/organisations appear to struggle with are Setting Clear Expectations and Ensuring Accountability

In this article, we take a deeper dive to determine just what’s going on, so that it might present some clues as to what we need to focus on in order to improve the performance of these results and, through that, the performance of our businesses/organisations.

Let’s first take a look as Setting Clear Expectations. The scorecard questions relating to this component of the model are as follows, with the % in brackets reflecting the percentage of respondents scoring 60% or less:

  1. To what extent are up-to-date position descriptions available for all roles within the business? (66%)
  2. To what extent are there clearly-defined goals and objectives for each team and staff member to work towards? (89%)
  3. To what extent are team and staff goals and objectives directly linked to the overall strategy/plans of the business? (78%)
  4. To what extent does the business have clear policies and procedures in place to clarify expectations both in terms of “what gets done” and “how it gets done”? (62%)
  5. To what extent do you think staff are aware of and clearly understand the current priorities of their role, their team and the broader business? (38%)

The priorities for most businesses/organisations will be readily apparent: to set clear expectations, we firstly need to ensure up-to-date position descriptions are in place for all team members, then we need to ensure each team member has clearly defined goals (linked to the strategy/goals of the business) to work towards.

While not a complete answer, a well written position description can be a cornerstone for Setting Clear Expectations. Reach out to [email protected] if you’d like a complimentary template, complete with guidance notes.

Of course, it’s no use setting clear expectations if we don’t also hold people accountable for meeting those expectations, so let’s now take a look at Ensuring Accountability. Again, the scorecard questions relating to this component of the model follow, with the % in brackets reflecting the percentage of respondents scoring 60% or less:

  1. To what extent are there mechanisms in place, and being used effectively, to ensure all staff and managers are given regular feedback and made accountable for their performance? (76%)
  2. To what extent are instances of poor performance or misconduct dealt with promptly and appropriately? (69%)
  3. To what extent are there opportunities for staff to provide feedback about their manager(s) and/or how they think and feel about the business? (for example, by staff providing input to reviews of their manager and/or employee surveys) (89%)
  4. To what extent are there structured opportunities (feedback forms, surveys for example), for customers to provide feedback in relation to their experience with the business? (63%)
  5. To what extent is meaningful information relevant to the performance of the business shared with all staff? (for example, performance/benchmarking data, progress towards targets & goals, and results of employee and customer surveys) (70%)

Again, there’s a couple of items that “leap out” as requiring attention by most businesses/organisations, namely: implementing and effectively using mechanisms to provide team members with feedback about their performance, and making opportunities available for team members to contribute their own feedback to the business.

A few comments in regards to these points:

  • Mechanisms to provide staff with feedback about their performance don’t need to be overly-sophisticated. Sure, you can have a formal performance review system in place, with outcomes linked to training and remuneration etc…, and that’s great, but it can also be as simple as instigating a monthly or quarterly “how’s it going” chat with each staff member to discuss performance and consider priorities for the coming period.
  • In our experience, many business owners and managers shy away from having any form of performance-related discussions on the basis that they may need to have 1 or 2 uncomfortable conversations with team members who just aren’t quite performing to the standards required. While the reluctance is perhaps understandable, we’d encourage you to think of the broader impact: by avoiding 1 or 2 potentially difficult conversations, you’re denying others in your team who are performing well with the opportunity for feedback (AND the opportunity to reinforce expectations and demonstrate that you do in fact value their contributions);
  • Many managers hold the view that “people don’t want feedback”. That’s generally not correct in our experience. In fact, research by Gallup (reported in BRW, 11/2014), revealed that employees are 7 times more likely to be engaged when their managers are aware of their current work and holding them accountable.
  • Just as we need to ensure opportunities for staff to receive feedback from managers on behalf of the business, so the business needs to provide opportunities for staff to provide their feedback in relation to the business. Why? There are many reasons but here’s just a few:
    • Gaining insight into how staff are thinking and feeling can help you address potentially modest issues before they develop into larger problems: disputes and grievances, excessive absence, poor performance and/or staff turnover/resignations
    • Staff on the frontline are often better-placed to identify opportunities to improving the business, so why not give them the opportunity to make those suggestions?
    • Through the Success Through People Model, we’re seeking to develop a “culture of accountability”. That doesn’t just mean our staff being accountable to us as business owners or managers. It also means us/managers being accountable to our teams, and the business being accountable to its customers/clients. Keep in mind that one such opportunity for inviting and gathering staff feedback on the business is the Success Through People Team Survey.

So how is your business/organisation performing?

What are your Success Through People scores in relation to Setting Clear Expectations and Ensuring Accountability?

What are you willing to commit to, today, in order to improve your business?

Of course, reach out if you need support, we’d love to hear from you. And if you haven’t already done so (or haven’t done so recently), take the free Success Through People Scorecard and receive a comprehensive, personalised report with further tips and tools to help you and your business achieve Success Through People.​