A few years ago, I was working with a construction company that had an issue with projects not completed on time.
There was general frustration among the workers because one of the foremen – the owner’s son – would sleep in his truck during working hours.
Supplies weren’t being picked up on time, safety meetings were missed and there was a lack of communication about what needed to be done. And other employees felt they could take extended breaks, so did so.
The owner’s son wouldn’t accept any blame for the projects’ slow delivery. He blamed the carpenters and labourers on the site.
Projects and jobs not completed on time, or at all, is a problem for many business owners right now. Changes in work environments, working from home and a lack of business activity have taken work avoidance to a new level for some employees.
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However, work avoidance is not a new issue. Staff members who aren’t performing now probably had challenges in the past.
The failure may not be theirs alone – it may also be a failure of leadership.
There’s nothing as frustrating for some leaders as when tasks don’t get done and it seems like employees don’t care. This frustration can be heard in complaints such as:
- “If I don’t do it myself it never gets done.”
- “I don’t know how many times I have to remind James that he has to do his job.”
- “Perhaps we need to move the desks to the water cooler to get any work done around here.”
- “Another project that we failed to complete on time or on budget.”
When we leaders fail to hold people accountable for doing their jobs, we’re failing in our responsibility.
According to the Table Group, a survey of 12,000 companies found that 65 per cent of respondents said a lack of accountability was an issue in their organization. A lack of accountability leads to a lack of production and profitability, a loss of morale and high staff turnover.
I’ve experienced it in my businesses and observed it in many others.
There are many reasons why we don’t hold people accountable for doing their jobs:
- We sometimes think the person will quit if we confront them about doing the work they signed up for.
- Many of us fear conflict and think that approaching the subject will cause a huge argument.
- Sometimes we worry the person is going through personal problems and we shouldn’t burden them by asking them to do their job.
The elephant in the room doesn’t leave, it just goes on to consume more resources until there is no space to breathe and good employees leave in frustration. Or, in some cases, the situation blows up.
However, building accountability in an organization might not be as difficult as it seems.
The best method is for peers to start holding each other accountable for results. There are a number of ways to do this. One of the easiest is having weekly meetings with reporting about what was completed in the last week and what will be completed in the coming week.
I have a form for this and if you email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’ll be happy to send it to you.
When we start holding people accountable for doing their jobs, one of two things usually happens:
- the jobs start getting done;
- or the person feels pressure and moves on to another job where they can succeed or continue to cover up their lack of willingness to work.
Lack of accountability is the downfall of many a leader. But when we overcome this issue, we move from mediocrity towards greatness.
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy.