“Uncle Joe” is back! Joe Crisara, owner of Service MVP returns to To The Point, and is here to help you understand how creating a culture of accountability is great for your bottom line. Accountability is a huge missing piece in a lot of companies, and it’s a fundamental part of structuring your organization and establishing a culture that is geared towards your success.
Accountability isn’t too complicated to understand. It’s implementing it, instilling it, and exemplifying it for your team. For starters, it’s about celebrating when people are doing things right. Maybe you have a training program or onboarding program. When someone graduates, celebrate! That’s accountability, and this celebration should be in public to give a boost of self-esteem and start to build confidence. You want your team to be confident, and confidence is gained by doing things right, being acknowledged by others as an expert, and seeing results.
The other side of accountability is when things don’t go the way they should, or when people don’t do what they were trained to do. This part of accountability is more of a private, pull them to the side component. We have to stop and determine if they need to be coached, or to have them do things again until they can be held accountable to do it right. This is called a high leverage activity (HLA).
HLAs are important to understand for accountability. It’s telling someone that they need to accomplish A before they get B, which is accountability in a nutshell. It’s celebrating in public when things go right, and pulling them aside when things are wrong to help them get it right. The key is to all of this without anger or frustration when people get it wrong. The job of an owner is accountability, and that job should be done with joy.
There are four pillars of accountability to know and understand.
Without proper training, we can’t hold someone accountable. You can’t expect someone to know something if they haven’t been taught!
Coaching means that a person completed training, but they need some help staying or getting back on track. This is a continual, supportive part of accountability.
Accountability is the continual evaluation to make sure that the person is meeting standards, and the subsequent public celebration and private coaching/training as needed.
Once you’ve gone through training and coaching, and the accountability piece is in place, you’ll have the knowledge of knowing you have the right person for your team. Or, it can let you know you don’t have the right person. If you’re having to continually provide negative accountability in private, that time and energy should have limits.
Where accountability can often fall apart is knowing where the limits are for accountability. If you’re providing the proper training and coaching, and it’s still not working, don’t get to the point when you’re sick of trying and give up while keeping that person on the payroll. That’s a recipe for dysfunction in your organization.
It’s a common frustration for owners when someone under your charge isn’t doing well. You’ll probably be blaming yourself for not training them well enough, or providing the right support. Accountability is the end of the process, and engaging in anger is eating your own disease. Don’t let your “ego be your amigo”, and show frustration. That’s not proper people development. People development is anticipating and understanding that people are going to struggle, and providing unconditional support and friendship through that period. As long as they put in the effort, you have their back. When people don’t put in the effort, that’s when you have to recognize the limits of your time and energy and re-evaluate whether the person is the right fit for your team.
Accountability culture starts with a leader who is accountable. A leader should be a model of not just what’s possible, but what is expected. If the leader can admit when they fall short and have humility, you’ll not only find that your team will support you, but replicate your accountability within themselves and the rest of the team.
Joe points to a chain of accountability that starts at the top. There aren’t bad technicians, just dispatchers who are giving them bad calls. There aren’t bad dispatchers, just managers who are letting them give bad calls. There aren’t bad managers, just owners who aren’t holding them accountable. This chain starts with the leader of the company, and the sooner you take ownership and hold yourself accountable, the sooner you’ll have a culture of accountability throughout your organization. Lead by example!
Instead of managing people, you want to establish a system you can manage. Systems are what prevent errors. Human error is impossible to eliminate, so implementing a system in your business to recognize errors and utilize processes for correcting errors is the key.
Dysfunction in a company is almost always based on relationships. Do you have a person that you feel like you can’t tell to do something because of their temperament? Is everyone being held accountable to the same universal standards across your organization? You need to have a system that is functional enough to prevent mistakes, identify mistakes, and then produce a process for each situation that everyone has to follow—from the top down.
What does all of this look like in action? If you’re a service technician, perhaps your average day is texting your dispatcher that you’re ready for your first call. Maybe your dispatcher asks to see a video of a clean truck, and then they’ll send you your first call. A lot of companies might be hesitant to put this step in their system, but it’s part of that chain of accountability. You can’t coddle and create dysfunctional relationships where everyone isn’t accountable at every level.
This is an example of an HLA in action. It’s saying if you’re a technician, you have to have a clean truck before you get your first call. Or it could be the managers making sure the dispatchers have all of their call information sorted before starting their day. Having these HLAs in place as part of your system allows for accountability throughout the organization. Something that goes wrong is something the system should fix, not the people. If trucks are dirty, the system should have a process that identifies and corrects. If customers aren’t happy, there needs to be a system for making them happy, and so on and so forth.
The whole point of this system is get everyone doing what they should be doing, hitting your client fulfillment and sales pieces, and preventing drama. In a system of accountability, there’s no drama, no arguing. Just people doing their jobs, and letting the system guide their day-to-day tasks. That’s what it should look like!
Aside from preventing drama, frustration, and anger, a culture of accountability is great for your bottom line! When you have HLAs integrated into your system, people understand what they need to be doing, and that they will be held accountable for both hitting and missing the mark. This allows for you to be an investor into your business. By letting this system do its job, you can be more detached. You won’t be living and dying by your people’s successes and failures, but rather monitoring the system, metrics, and KPIs to see what is working and what needs more work.
With proper accountability, you can hold your managers accountable to fix things instead of having to do everything yourself. Your managers can hold the team accountable, so they don’t have to do everything themselves. Your dispatchers and technicians understand what is expected, and the system guides them through processes to ensure things are done the way they should be.
Companies with this culture of accountability can struggle for a day, but not a week. Problems get resolved quickly by the system, and dysfunction simply doesn’t have time to develop into anger or frustration. Then, you can finally focus on getting the return on your investment. Profit is more possible when you can look at things from outside the company, instead of being trapped inside where you can’t see the full picture.
Your systems and accountability culture go hand in hand. You can start small, too, by implementing a few minor HLAs into your business. Maybe it’s requiring some paperwork before sending a salesperson out on a call, or requiring your technicians to clean their trucks every morning. It doesn’t have to be complicated! You probably already know your pressure points, so create an HLA for one or two things, and move from there.
Looking for even more valuable wisdom and insights into how to make your business the best it can be? Want to meet Chris, Tall Paul, and Joe Crisara in person? Join us at the True Grit Service Sales Summit in Las Vegas! Held at the Golden Nugget from September 22nd-24th, the True Grit Service Sales Summit is a conglomeration and collaboration of some of the fastest moving and most decisive names in the service industry. Former To The Point guests Tommy Mello and Ishmael Valdez will be there, as well as many other exciting names in the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical world. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking to learn how to grow and enjoy real profit for their business. We hope to see you there!