The coronavirus and its effects on our communities are evident all around us.  We are awash in information and misinformation, given opinions that run from wildly pessimistic to optimistic, and left confused and not knowing who or what to believe.

We don’t have to be led by fear and uncertainty.  We can remember that God is in control even though we don’t see it, don’t understand it, don’t like it, and don’t want to deal with it.

Paul told Timothy “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

This is what we must do today, whatever our ministry, calling, role, or occupation.  I encourage Christian business leaders around the country to pray for our nation.

Pray for the physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual well-being for our families, friends, and neighbors.

Pray that God grants our government, medical, media, business, and community leaders wisdom to make the best decisions possible for their areas of influence and responsibility.

Pray that we re-evaluate how we do business and education, remember what is important, and invest our time and efforts into what really matters so we come out of this stronger and better than before.

Pray that businesses and jobs are protected, that families renew their bonds, and that we turn back to God.

God is not a God of confusion.  This is a time where Christians can be salt and light to a world that needs it.  Take care of others.  Don’t panic.  Be prudent but not fearful.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  – John 16:33

Business owners commonly express the need for more accountability.  I have found leaders actually mistake other issues for a lack of accountability.  Leaders build accountability over time using what I call the 4 C’s.

Clarity – Sometimes people mistake accountability for clarity.  People and teams can’t be held accountable if their goals and responsibilities aren’t clear.  You must provide clarity before you can have accountability.

Communication – Team members need to know they can have an open dialog with their manager to discuss issues and ideas.  Likewise, leaders must make themselves available to their teams on a regular basis in both group and one-on-one settings.  Lack of communication can lead to culture and accountability issues.

Coaching – Some managers and leaders struggle with having difficult conversations with team members who aren’t meeting expectations.  People can’t improve without knowing where they fall short.  It is the leader’s responsibility to identify inadequate performance or behavior early and help their team member correct it before it becomes a problem.

Consequences – Sometimes managers jump straight to applying consequences when they ask for accountability.  You have to check yourself on Clarity, Communication, and Coaching first; otherwise, you risk creating a culture of fear.  Fear is the result of people facing consequences without knowing why or being given the chance to improve.  If you have the other three C’s and have built a strong culture, positive peer pressure may address some issues organically on its own.

Accountability isn’t a system or an action.  It is a culture.  Leaders build accountability by consistently providing clarity, having meaningful communication, proactively providing coaching, and only then having consequences if the team isn’t self-correcting.

If you need help building accountability, contact us at http://opalpg.com/contact-us/ or https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

People like to be in it, no one likes to be called out of it, and Janet Jackson even wrote a song about it.  What is it?  Control.

It’s natural to want control – to be in command of your life, your destiny, your job, your customers.  And we all realize that there are some things we simply can’t control.

To a degree, we do have some control.  We can control the activities of those in our charge at home, at work, or elsewhere.  We can determine how and when to make investments and utilize capital.  We can chart a new direction and set new goals.

But there are things we can’t control either.  People can make their own decisions that may be counter to your goals.  We can’t stop natural disasters.  Sometimes actions of others come crashing into your industry or personal life.

When it comes down to it, what we cannot control exceeds what we can control.  What does that mean for your business?

It means your strategy must focus on what you can deliver.  It can’t rely on hope or feelings or guesses.

It means you evaluate people and companies by how responsible they are with what they can control and how they respond to the things they can’t.

It means you must guard your reputation and attitude.  In the end, those are the only things in which you are in 100% control and how you and your business will be remembered.

It’s true- you have influence.  People notice your actions and your words.

If you are a leader – at work, at home, in the community – in any capacity, people do pay attention to what you do and what you say.  Every interaction or observation can leave a lasting impression.

It’s up to you to decide if the impression left will be positive or negative.

I was reminded of the impact individuals have on those around them several times recently on both a personal and professional level.  It can be frightening and humbling.

Frightening when you realize that you don’t always live up to your own expectations much less the example you want to be for others.

Humbling to realize that no matter your circumstances, you have an impact.

It can also be energizing. As a leader in your company and your neighborhood, you have the potential to quietly make a tremendous impact – often without saying a word.

Are you living up to your stated values and beliefs?  Does every interaction make a deposit or withdrawal from someone’s emotional bank account?  Are you living life as a servant leader putting others first?  Does your presence inspire your team?

If you can answer “yes” to all the questions above, you are a leader no matter what your role.  You have influence.

It is not unusual for business owners to tell me they want more accountability in their organizations.  My first question for them is usually something like “what’s keeping you from holding people accountable?”

 

I know it is easier said than done.  Driving accountability can be more difficult for some people than others.  People are afraid that holding the line on performance and values may be uncomfortable or even make them unlikable.

 

Actually, I think the opposite is true.  A culture where expected results and behaviors are known and followed is freeing.  It removes ambiguity and doubt.  It makes conversations easier.

 

If your company struggles with accountability, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I tend to avoid difficult conversations about performance and behaviors?
  • Have I set clear goals for the company?
  • Does each team or individual have specific KPIs?
  • Do the metrics we track move us toward our goals?
  • Is there dissonance between our words and our actions?

 

Once you’ve addressed any of the challenges above, you still have work to do.  Driving accountability is part of building culture.  It is not a “one and done” activity.  It takes commitment, dedication, and follow-through from leaders to make accountability a part of a company’s DNA.

According to a Gallup report, only 34% of US employees are actively engaged in their jobs.  Gallup defines “engaged” as “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”

What about the other 66%?  13% are “actively disengaged,” and a whopping 53% are “not engaged” which means they show up and do their work but they aren’t connected to their work or their workplace.

Disengaged employees cost you money.  It is estimated that absenteeism, churn, and lack of motivation – signs of a lack of engagement – cost companies around $500 billion per year.

Writing for Small Business Trends, Victor Snyder, a business coach, says that business leaders should avoid these three things that cause employee disengagement:

  • Poor communication with employees
  • Ignoring your personal brand
  • Failing to develop leaders

If you make an honest assessment of your business, are you creating an environment that fosters engagement?

It’s true – inquiring minds do want to know, if you are talking about the people who make your business run every day.

I was reminded of this working with a client recently on some operational challenges. The client, who uses EOS, said during our discussion that it was surprising how putting a name in a box in an accountability chart gave his employees clarity.

He’s right. We forget that organizational charts, job descriptions, or a position matrix give people clarity in their roles and the roles of others.

Communicating strategy to everyone builds trust that the company has a plan for success. Scorecards inform people how they as groups or individuals contribute to that success.

Leaders can’t forget that they have access to more information about the business than other employees. Team members may feel less secure or certain about their roles and the company’s future in the absence of good communication from their leaders.

People thrive when allowed to do their best knowing what is expected and how they will be evaluated. Having the structure in place to support and guide them in decision making gives them freedom to be creative and exceed what was thought possible.

Are you searching for a software solution that will transform your business?

Or maybe your company is just one great hire from kicking it into another gear.

Perhaps you are on the verge of implementing a new program rally your team.

You are hoping for a silver bullet.

The harsh reality is that no program, software solution, or employee is the silver bullet you seek.  It could be a component for creating success or moving to the next level but it is only one component. 

Success – no matter how you define it – will be a product of your hard work.  As the leader, no one is going to understand your business or work as hard on it as you do. 

You must channel your energy and vision into building success.  To do so requires a plan, determination, and accountability.  Ask yourself hard questions, be willing to make agonizing decisions, and recruit people you trust to walk the journey with you and hold you accountable. 

Start with a vision.  Create a plan.  Measure your progress.  Be held accountable.  Be ruthless in making tough decisions for the right reasons.  Treat those who have joined your journey well. 

You can’t do it alone.  Make sure to ask for help in the areas where you are not strong. 

Today I read an article that called HR the department responsible “for policing personnel actions and culture.” That struck me as odd.

Culture shouldn’t be policed. Leaders model and nurture it; employees create it.

Culture is the environment and personality of a company. It is the result of thousands of interactions a day between employees in every group at every level.

If the actual culture doesn’t match the stated company culture or values, there is a disconnect that causes confusion – or worse – mistrust.  It is fine to aspire to a desired culture as long as you realize 1) the difference, and 2) that you aren’t there yet.  Mismatch between the stated and actual culture fools no one.

If no one takes ownership for building and managing culture, culture still happens by default.

HR may do things to encourage culture, but a single department can’t force a culture.  HR’s roles are to advise the leadership on issues of culture and to ensure rules and laws relating to personnel are applied correctly.

Some may argue there isn’t much difference between policing and building a culture.  I believe there is huge gulf between the two in terms of approach and attitude.  Do you want to work for a company where culture is policed or one where culture is intentionally created?

It’s a safe bet that if you do a quick internet search on business priorities that increasing topline revenue, improving sales performance, and increasing company value will show up in the top results.  Growth matters.

To misquote Gordon Gekko:  growth is good.

Growth tells us you are meeting a need in the market and customers see value in what you do. Growth gives your team more opportunities and expands your horizons. Investors are happy. If you ever watch ABC’s Shark Tank, you know that history and forecasts of growth are major areas of concern.

But it’s not all rosy. You must be prepared for growth and have realistic expectations.

Growing your company may require capital or decreased profitability while you invest in the future.

Your team may need to find newer, better ways to accomplish their tasks to be more efficient and maintain profitability. What got you here may not support you at the next level.

The company may outgrow the capacity and capabilities of its employees. This is especially true of leaders as the company moves from an idea to a company to a professionally-managed firm.

Strong leaders can navigate these obstacles by taking a long-term approach and making tough decisions at the right time.  You must be prepared to protect the business.

However, there are two challenges of growth that can be devastating if you aren’t intentional about protecting them:  maintaining culture and customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction is obvious. You won’t stay in business if your level of service drops. Customers have other choices.  Can you maintain your current level of satisfaction while adding more customers?

Culture, however, is easy to ignore if you aren’t intentional. Rapid growth may mean rapid expansion of your team. Hiring strategies must include finding new team members who embrace your values.  Leaders must work harder to model, foster, and communicate values as the team gets larger.  “Culture eats strategy.”

Growth is vital, but exceeding your ability to absorb growth is dangerous.