Do you remember playing baseball with your friends when in a split second the ball went crashing through a window? As you nervously looked around, you soon realized you would have to admit to the accident.
Even if you’ve never sent a baseball flying through a window, there surely have been any number of instances where you had to take responsibility for your actions. This naturally follows into the workplace.
You are responsible for many things, and so are your employees. But how do you ensure that there’s a culture of accountability in your business? Don Tyler, management consultant,
Detailed job descriptions.
Job application forms: This creates a level of accountability when an employee signs it and says “this is my employment history.”
Performance evaluation: This form creates accountability by giving each employee a record of his or her on-the-job performance.
Employee handbook: This is the place to outline company procedures (and expectations) for employees. It sets the business’ tone for acceptable behaviors and processes.
“Increasingly people come to work thinking they don’t owe the workplace anything, and they treat it accordingly,” says
He notes that pork operations with few behavioral problems make it clear what is and is not acceptable. Those points are different for every place, and ownership or management has to define them.
“It comes down to setting a tone that’s acceptable,” says
Accountability not only applies to personal behavior, but job performance as well. This is where production practices and standard operating procedures come into play.
One place that takes employee accountability seriously is Wakefield Pork in
In addition to the basic written materials,
There are specific program-system manuals to assist and guide finishing-unit growers. The manuals are audited twice a year to maintain an accountability level required to participate in a USDA (process verified) program, called Pork L.C. for the European Union.
Another important area that can help build accountability is to define standard-operating procedures. This can be quite extensive for some operations.
Accountability needs to be portrayed at every business level. “The tools, those being the manuals, evaluations, various forms, handbooks, checklists and such, are put in place to help a person succeed,” says Langhorst. “It’s what you do with the tools that make the difference.”
She offers an example.
Langhorst says it took time to get the employees on board with the new breeding system, but everyone knew it would help benefit the unit’s budget and the entire operation.
“My employees respond to accountability with a positive attitude,” says Jeff Uhde,
As an added incentive,
“We display the results weekly so workers in each unit know the weak and strong points, and where they compare to other units,” says Langhorst. “Rewards are given on a quarterly basis and again at year’s end. It provides immediate feed back to the company and the employees, on how well they are performing.”
This is just one example of how employees can benefit from taking responsibility for their actions. Other examples are possible promotions, job security or additional bonuses, such as extra days off or tickets to a game or concert.
The fallout from not being accountable can range from losing a bonus to being placed on performance probation.
There are three things that are critical for managers/owners to make accountability work, notes
1 Speak up. Someone has to step up and say something if an employee steps out of line. You have to train people to say, “that is not our policy” or “this is how we do it.”
2 Act quickly. When you see a problem, whether it be a behavior or production issue, deal with it as quickly as possible.
“My belief is that accountability is a part of
3 Be consistent. “It’s hard to establish a level of accountability that everyone expects if managers favor one employee over others,” says
Employees will recognize a level playing field and a professional atmosphere.
“We all know what is expected of us,” says Michelle Fuller, an interim
Stephen Covey, author of the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says, “We are like a book of matches. It takes only one match out of the whole book to start a fire.”
Langhorst says that each person has a vital role to the team. Once that is understood, it seems like the unit runs itself.”
Your pork operation’s success depends on accountability from employees as well as the manager and owner. If each person takes responsibility for his or her actions, you won’t have to struggle to find out, “who broke the window?”