The Secret To Holding Your People Accountable
Eric M. Twiggs
“The difference between who you are and who you want to be, is what you do.” Bill Phillips
What’s the secret to holding your people accountable? As I ponder this question, I am reminded of a conversation I had with “Laura”, a shop owner who was trying to determine why her sales and customer count had been down on Saturdays. In previous months, Saturdays had been her busiest day of the week, but over the past two months, sales had dipped by 25% year over year.
The decline in sales occurred around the same time she placed “Patrick” as the assistant manager for the location. And what was the one day of the week, that Patrick oversaw the operation by himself? You guessed it, Saturday!
“Eric, Patrick isn’t the problem! He’s great with customers, he told me that he schedules their next service and makes the follow up calls.” Laura stated with confidence. “OK Laura, is he following the sales process?” “Absolutely! He told me that he visits the car with every customer every time!"
“Well, how does he do on the phones?” I asked. “Eric, he’s great on the phones. During our last one on one, he told me that he was following the phone script he got from Randy’s service advisor class.”
My glass is usually “half full”, but this time I was skeptical. I suggested that she begin recording all incoming and outgoing phone calls. She agreed, got the call recording systems in place, and began the habit of listening to the recordings. When we spoke again, I was surprised by what she found.
“Coach, I have to admit, when you first asked me to record the calls, I didn’t see the point. But then I listened to Patrick’s calls and heard him telling our Saturday customers that we close at 1:30pm, when we really close at 5!”
Next, she conducted an unannounced shop visit the following Saturday, and saw that he wasn’t scheduling appointments or visiting the car with the customers. None of the things he told her, were true! This encounter reinforced the following secret to holding your people accountable: Always inspect what you expect.
Has accountability been an issue at your shop? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. In his book Unlocking Potential, Michael Simpson reported on a recent global survey that was conducted with over 50,0000 company employees from around the world.
The survey concluded that 79% of the respondents felt they were not being held accountable for a lack of progress towards their organizations stated goals. Stay with me to learn a two-step plan to master the accountability secret.
Establish Your Non-Negotiables
I was having dinner at one of the chain restaurants recently and noticed an annoying trend. The waiters each wore these buttons on their suspenders, and sang “the birthday song” whenever they became aware that it was someone’s birthday. Now I must admit, I don’t like the buttons and birthday song routine!
When the manager stopped by my table to see how I was doing, I asked her the following question: “If I worked here and decided not to wear the buttons and sing the birthday song, what would happen?” She replied: “You wouldn’t be working here for long!” And then it hit me. Wearing the buttons and singing the birthday song are examples of non-negotiables.
Every job has certain tasks that must be done even if you don’t like them. When I ran shops, following the phone script, doing the courtesy checks, and scheduling exit appointments fell into this category. The tasks were critical to the culture I was building, so I was unwilling to negotiate or debate about them with my employees.
What are the buttons and birthday song items that are critical to your culture? I recommend putting them in writing and scheduling a meeting with your team to review. As I previously stated, you must inspect what you expect. Having clearly communicated non-negotiables is the first step because it lets everyone know what you expect from them.
Trust What You Verify
During my career as a district manager, I would have meetings with my people where I laid out the non-negotiables. Next I would have everyone sign a memo agreeing to do the courtesy checks, follow the phone script, and schedule the exit appointment.
I would have conference calls the following week, where everyone told me they were doing what we agreed to. My Vice President would call and ask if the shops were executing the non-negotiables, and I assured him that they were. I trusted what they told me!
When my boss and I would visit a random location, we would find that the employees were doing everything except the courtesy checks, the phone scripts and the exit appointments! Like Laura, I made the mistake of trusting without verifying. This experience inspired me to create a show me list.
I created a list of specific items related to the non-negotiables that the managers had to show me during the visit. Instead of asking about courtesy checks I said: “Show me your courtesy checks from this week.” Instead asking about the phone process, I directed them to:“show me your phone log.” Instead of asking about exit appointments, I required them to: “Show me your appointment log.”
Once I made a habit of inspecting what I expected, compliance improved. Have you been trusting what you haven’t verified? Developing a show me list will keep everyone honest.
So, there you have it. Once you establish your non-negotiables and trust what you verify, you’ll be on your way to mastering the secret to holding your people accountable. Trust me when I tell you that inspecting what you expect will increase your odds of become a Top Shop!
Eric M. Twiggs
The Accountability Coach
PS: Not sure what to add to your show me list? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your show-me checklist