Accountability

Commit to Connecting

If the months keep passing and you keep forgetting to connect with customers, use your calendar to establish a cadence for connecting. Set a 30 minute appointment on the same day of each month and use that time to schedule your connections. Then, treat the appointments as sacred events on your calendar. Avoid canceling and adjust the number of appointments each month, as you learn what works best for you.

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Model the Culture You Want

“You create the culture in your environment.” – Dr. Natalie Harder.

If you want a positive culture in your organization, as the leader realize you set the tone for the culture of your organization. Hold up the mirror and reflect on how you can model the culture you want for your organization. Culture change happens one interaction at a time and causes a ripple through an organization from person to person.

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A Journey

It’s easy to think that an organization can “arrive” at excellence and then take a breather. In reality, organizational excellence requires a constant effort and process of reflecting on where you are and where you need to be. Having a framework and set of principles to guide this effort keeps teams moving forward and aligned.

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Who’s Doing What?

To increase accountability across a team, create clarity. Ensure roles, responsibilities, and goals are clear. It’s easier to be accountable when you know who’s doing what and where the team is going.

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Connect Actions to Values

When discussing strategic direction and strategic actions with our teams, it’s helpful to connect those actions to the organization’s values to allow people to visualize the meaningful outcomes of their work.

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Analyze Your Complaints

Keep track of the complaints you receive and respond to. Every 6 months revisit that list and make note of the complaints that arise the most. Ask your team and yourself if there is a barrier in the process or if there is a change that can be made to decrease the most common complaints.

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If You’re in a Hole Stop Digging

Communicate about a crisis as openly and honestly as possible. Don’t try to leave out information, mislead the public or the media, or avoid owning up to the crisis. The crisis may feel detrimental at the time. However, in the long-run, the attempt to cover it up can leave an organization’s reputation in shambles.

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Ask Your Team

During connections with your team members, clarify their understanding of the strategic goals and how their roles reflect those goals. Ask, “What actions are you prioritizing this month?”. Offer feedback about how those actions align with the overall goal for the organization. This will give you an awareness of team members who might not be prioritizing the right actions and opportunities to support those individuals.

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Develop Awareness

Track your actions for one week to develop an awareness of how you stack up in the area of modeling standards and expectations.

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Revisit Your Plan

Your career development map should be a living document. Revisit it every 90 days, or every 6 months to make changes and be sure it’s up to date. Don’t forget to keep track of your development progress.

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Align Your Team One Step at a Time

Identify one thing at a time you can do, or stop doing, to make sure your leadership team is on board and then commit to taking action. It’s the senior leader’s ultimate responsibility to align the executive leadership team.

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What We Permit We Promote

When you see or hear someone that is not adhering to the standards, speak up. At the same time compliment those that are living the values and mission of the organization and encourage others to recognize values-driven behavior as well. As a leader, you are not only obligated to live your mission, vision and values, you are responsible for ensuring others do as well.

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Schedule Time for Note-Taking

Set aside specific time in your schedule after meetings to take notes. You’ll be meeting with many people and you’ll want to remember the valuable information you learned about the organization and them personally. Looking back on these notes will help you take action after your first 100 days have passed.

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Focus on Behaviors

When providing feedback to colleagues and employees, focus on behaviors. As you and your conversation partner discuss an observed event or action, describe specifically what the individual did and the impact that it had. Use action verbs and narrate the sequence as you observed it; then describe what happened as a result. Often, we remember what we “think” we did, or intended to do, but we’re not self-aware enough to know what we actually did.

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Reflect on Your Own Behavior

Take a moment to reflect on how well you are upholding your organization’s values… usually they match your own. Is there room for improvement? Take note of what could be improved in your own behavior.

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Decide When Adjustment is Necessary

Have a look at your compliance standards. Where are you allowing variance, and should you?

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Track Your Actions

At the end of each day track your actions on a four-column table. In the first column, list your meetings, calls and tasks. In the 2nd column list the actions you took that align to your organizational standards. In the third column list what you could have done better in adhering to your mission and values. In column four, note opportunities to hold others accountable.

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Create Goal Champions

Identify an executive champion for each organizational goal. That leader works with the team to break the goal into smaller chunks and each person takes responsibility for part of the goal. On a weekly basis, talk about actions each person is taking to achieve the goal and celebrate milestones accomplished.

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Grow Owners

Owners are deeply committed to organizational performance. They often take personal responsibility when things go wrong and immediately begin looking for solutions. This is the type of behavior organizations seek to replicate. To grow owners in your organization, find ways to deliberately and publicly highlight displays of ownership behavior in others.

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Break the We/They Habit

We/They is easy to do and often undetected. Bringing the practice to light and learning how to spot statements that paint others in a negative light is the first step to eliminating We/They from your organization. Model the expectation of eradication by admitting when you We/They throughout the week. The team will respect this open reflection and be more willing to hold themselves accountable.

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Get the Team Involved in Action Planning

90-day planning helps us focus on the 90-day priorities and actions that will move us closer to achievement of annual goals. These plans also help to focus our teams. Presenting goals in achievable chunks creates opportunity to celebrate success along the way or make adjustments where needed. Invite your team to provide input as you draft the next 90-day plan.

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Do What You Say

Follow through with your crisis communication plan after the crisis has blown over. Do what you say you will do to overcome the obstacle. Continue to keep the community updated about progress the organization is making or changes to the plan. Continue listening to your stakeholders to support rebuilding relationships and trust. After the crisis, analyze what worked well and areas the organization can improve their response before the next crisis.

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Consult a Lawyer

During a crisis it is essential for leaders to consult with a lawyer before releasing information. Once a lawyer is consulted release all of the information allowed as soon as possible. Avoid withholding any information you can legally provide, attempting to hide information can only harm the organization during a crisis, there is no benefit.

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Avoid Thinking ‘Should’

Don’t focus on how things “should” be. This is a trap that can create unrealistic expectations and undermine happiness. Let go of the control over how an experience should go and enjoy the moment.

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Focus on Being Grateful

If you’re feeling grateful it should be hard to also feel sorry for yourself. One way gratitude can change your perspective quickly is by asking yourself, “Does someone on the planet have it worse than me right now?” It’s likely the answer is “yes.” To instantly change your perspective try:

  • Writing a Thank-You note to a friend or colleague.
  • Going out of your way to do something nice or useful for someone else.
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You Get To

Stop yourself from thinking you “have” to do something, and start thinking about things like you “get” to do them. This shift in perspective supports a positive and grateful mindset.

For Example: I have to take the kids to school daily. Becomes: I get to spend extra time with my children each morning driving them to school safely in my vehicle. 

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Hold “Renters” Accountable

Identify employees you lead who could improve their ownership behaviors and help them develop plans for improvement. Clearly explain the impact of their behavior on the organization, their colleagues, and those they serve. Set clear expectations for adherence to ownership behavior.  Establish a timeline for improvement and clearly communicate the consequences of continued negative behavior.

 

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Find Ways to Be An Owner

Seek out ownership opportunities within your organization. You don’t need a specific role or job title to be an owner. Adopt a “that’s my job” mindset. Be willing to help and execute in areas other than your assigned responsibilities.

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Commit to Following-Through

Owners do whatever it takes to get the job done. This may require overcoming barriers, or additional resources or personnel. Own the work by following-up and following-through with all people involved. When you handover a customer to another employee, follow-up to be sure the customer’s needs were met. Close the communication loop with customers and colleagues about progress on projects, next steps, and completed actions.

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Take Pride in Your Work

Execute your responsibilities to the best of your ability. Your work is a reflection of your personal accountability. Identify ways to go above and beyond in your work to exceed the expectations of your leader and team, and positively affect the organization’s results.

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Role Model Ownership

Leaders lead by always owning the organization in good times and in challenging times. State the mission/vision of the organization early and often to employees and invite discussion about what it means to bring the organization’s mission and vision to life daily. Model owner behavior daily and particularly in times of challenge. Maintain emotional control and maintain the focus on reaching goals and achieving the mission.

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Address Poor Performance

High performers want to work in organizations with other high performers. When leaders avoid addressing low performers, high and solid performers notice sub-par performers aren’t keeping up and can become frustrated, sometimes to the point that they will choose to leave the department or organization. It’s not fair for your team of high and solid performers to carry the low performers, its crucial to address low performer behavior quickly and effectively to retain high performers.

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Use Gratitude to Overcome Obstacles

When you are facing an obstacle it can be helpful to question yourself with a focus on gratitude:

  • What is one thing that is positive or good about this situation?
  • What is the hidden opportunity, or what can I learn from this situation?
  • Does someone have it worse than me right now?
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From Results to Action Plan

After you’ve completed the results rollout process, review the additional data you collected. Then, develop an action plan:

  • List the team’s prioritized actions.
  • Determine a timeline for implementation for each action.
  • Identify the person responsible for successful implementation of each action.
  • Provide the team with the draft 90 Day Action Plan for one last review and opportunity for feedback before implementation.
  • Implement the action plan.
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Find a Copilot

A copilot mentoring relationship is reciprocal. Both parties can rely on each other for help navigating the personalities in the workplace, talking through projects, and holding each other accountable. Think of a copilot that would help you improve your engagement level and the quality of your work.

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Qualities of a Mentor

Look for a mentor who is honest, vulnerable, and has experience aligned to your goals. Seek to learn from their mistakes and accomplishments. Have they demonstrated success? Is their career path similar to the direction you envision for yourself? Are they respected amongst their peers?

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Tell Stakeholders What they Want to Know

What is important to the organization’s stakeholders? Do you gather feedback from the stakeholders (the physical community that surrounds the organization, its investors, its customers, anyone that benefits from the service it provides)? Analyze stakeholder feedback to develop a plan to communicate openly with stakeholders based on the information they want to hear. Stakeholders want honest updates from the source.

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Use Scorecards to Communicate Purpose

Using a scorecard, help employees see how their daily actions inspire progress that leads to meaningful results. Employees are more likely to be engaged when they see how their work aligns to the organization’s mission and values.

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Meet with Leaders First

Ask the leadership team to participate in a Leadership Forum prior to the organization-wide employee forum. Explain what the employee forum will look like and gather feedback to ensure it’s successful. Include the information needed for leaders to continue to reinforce the message with their teams over the next 90 days.

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Develop Yourself

Set at least one professional development goal for the next 90 days. What skills do you need to strengthen? What actions can you take to strengthen those skills? Are there any upcoming opportunities or additional responsibilities you can take advantage of to support your development plan?

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Why Aren’t We Getting Results?

When individuals or teams aren’t reaching the intended results, schedule a reflection session to review the actions taken and areas that can be improved to achieve success. Then, develop a plan for the individual’s or team’s next steps.

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Illustrate Goals Visually

Use a scorecard, stoplight report, or another tool to visually present yearly goals. This tool can be used in meetings to show the progress toward goals and make necessary adjustments if progress isn’t being made. Achieving goals becomes more likely if we have a constant focus on the actions being taken to attain success.

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Reflect on Values

What does your organization value? How do you role-model one of the values? How do those you work with role-model this value? How can your organization strengthen its commitment to living out the values?

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Offer Freedom within the Fences

The most successful organizations are those that offer employees “freedom within fences.” The standards and expectations are collaboratively set, based on the organization’s goals. Then, leaders and employees creatively operate within the fence. This type of structure is not about control. Progress is monitored and direction is provided for how to achieve success.

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Assign a Champion of the Goal

The organization’s executive leader determines the champion to own each of the goals and its achievement. The focus of the champion is always on how to reach or surpass the target. This is the person responsible for reporting out results at regular intervals and for identifying areas of success. The champion also facilitates discussion of strategy implementation and any needed changes or adjustments. These discussions and decisions always revolve around hitting the goal and increasing performance.

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One Step at a Time

Annual or 90-day goals broken into bite-sized pieces create the opportunity for small, achievable wins that build momentum and confidence within the team. Use these small achievements as an opportunity to celebrate progress towards the goal.

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Communicate Progress

The stoplight colors are an easy and quick way to communicate progress toward achieving a goal. The green, yellow, and red colors are used to show the status in relation to achieving the goals. There is at least one measure (data set) for each goal. If there is no progress towards the goal, red is used. If the goal has been reached, we used green. A stoplight chart is a simple way to monitor progress and is a great visual communication tool.

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Develop Norms for Emails

Create organizational standards for email communication. Should the sender receive a response within 24 hours? Are your employees expected to answer emails after-hours? After email standards have been created, leadership will set an example by role-modeling the expected behaviors.

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Identify the Actions

Which actions will produce 80% of the quarterly goal results? Identifying which actions produces the majority of the results will align individual behavior to organizational goals.

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Ask Your Boss

“What is the one area in which you would most like me to place an extra focus?” and proceed to exceed their expectations.

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Own the Job

Avoid excuses and do whatever is necessary to overcome obstacles and meet your deadlines.

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Admit Your Mistakes

When you realize you’ve made a mistake, make amends humbly and immediately. The more time you let pass, the worse the situation can become.

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Improve Yourself First

Identify one thing you will learn this week, and set aside the time needed in your schedule. Improve yourself before you attempt to improve those you lead.

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Objective Evaluations

Adopt and commit to an objective, measurable, leader evaluation tool and hold leaders accountable for the results.

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Respond Proactively

Identify changes that could occur in your organization’s near future and create a plan for how you’d quickly respond to those changes to sustain excellence. This plan should consider different stakeholder groups such as employees, the community, and possibly news media. Include key words to use when communicating with each group.

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Human Responsibility

Identify a pain point for one of your team members today and make a point to solve it with urgency.

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Leadership is a Choice

Being a leader is a choice you make each day you come to work. Choose to listen better, set and role model higher standards, and provide more clarity to your team.

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Thrive in the Face of Adversity

Pause for 2 to 5 seconds to think today before you respond. Your response is always a choice, even in the most difficult situations, and sets an example for others to follow.

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Prepare for a Reaction

Before you act today, think ahead to the reaction you may receive. There is a reaction to every action, including the act of decision making.

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Priorities Align to Values

Analyze your actions for today and determine if they are in line with the mission and values of your organization. Identify what actions will lead to the most results and spend your time accordingly.

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Live Your Values

Identify what it looks like to model one of your organization’s values for all of your employees. Values shouldn’t live on paper. They live in your actions. Your core values set the expectations for behavior for everyone to model.

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Work Towards Annual Goals Daily

Break your 90-day goals down to weekly goals and monitor your progress each week. 90-day planning focuses on the 90-day priorities and actions that will move you closer to achievement of your annual goals. Viewing annual goals in smaller portions will keep you aligned to the right goals.

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Do Less to Accomplish More

Identify the most important task aligned to your goals each day and finish it first. “By creating less activity, we actually create more urgency. The key is choosing the right activity and making sure it’s implemented to the fullest degree.” -John Kotter

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Take Time to Reflect

When was the last time you reflected when things went wrong? Learn from your mistakes by taking time to reflect on the cause. This week, at the end of each day, reflect and identify your mistakes and where you can improve. Before you plan next year’s strategic actions, reflect on what results weren’t reached in the past year and what can be done differently.

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