I was recently speaking with a leader from one of our training classes, and she was agonizing over the lack of results being driven by her team. When I asked her why she thought that was, she mentioned all she receives from them are comments such as the below:
“No one will pick up the phones."
“I can’t find good employees that will keep showing up for work."
“The supply chain challenges make it impossible to take care of my current customers."
"No one wants to go to work anymore."
The world in which we currently live and work is certainly more dynamic than ever and constantly changing. We can all agree that many external factors impact our ability to deliver great outcomes for our organizations, customers, prospects, AND ourselves. However, here is some news that I’m sure will not shock you in any way…we are responsible for results despite these variables.
Now you may be saying, "excuse me?" My reply to that would be, "You are not excused with these socially acceptable excuses 😊.” Given the tough times we are all facing, It seems the time is now to revisit arguably the hardest of Butler Street’s Four Cornerstones of Success® to master, Personal Accountability.
Want to build a team that delivers on its commitments? you must create an organization with an accountability culture and performance ownership is at its core. It should be known that when a team member commits to doing something, they make it happen. It’s about taking responsibility for results and not using ANY socially acceptable excuses. Without accountability, trust in the team is quickly broken. If even one team member is viewed as not meeting their commitment and has no consequences, you will quickly begin to see frustration and disengagement from other team members. Following are 3 accountability actions to create optimal results for your customers, prospects, organizations, and most importantly, yourself.
1. Establish Clear Priorities
Each member of the team must understand what the minimum acceptable performance is for their role. At Butler Street, we use the process of Managing Agreements (See related blog: You Cannot Manage People, Better To Manage Agreements) This should include a few very specific deliverables around the following areas:
Outcomes – for instance, if a salesperson, it may be to generate $XXX of revenue and/or profit monthly, along with a minimum of 5 net new meetings per week
Activities – Make XX number of outbound touches each day
Processes – Use a call planning worksheet for every sales call
Communication, Behaviors, and Values – These will all focus on expectations organizationally, such as showing up to meetings on time and proactively participating, and following the core values of the company (perhaps the 4 Cornerstones themselves)
Make sure to explain the “why” behind each of these and tie them to the vision/strategy of the organization. Remember, everyone gets across the finish line together, or no one does, so everyone must be accountable for the minimum acceptable performance.
2. Leverage the Power of a Successful Failure
Failure is one of humankind's most powerful learning tools. When I was growing up in sales under the management of Butler Street’s very own Mike Jacoutot and Mary Ann McLaughlin, they imparted a valuable lesson around this concept. When we lost a deal, they would bring the sales team together, and if you were the one to lose the deal, you had to repeat these words to the team –
"I got outsold, and these are the adjustments I will make going forward."
We immediately pivoted into a team-building session of learning from that deal to take a progressively better action the next time that same situation arose. While certainly not easy or fun sometimes, to this day, those are still some of the best moments of my career in terms of becoming a better professional. And guess what, we still do this exercise at Butler Street to this very day. No excuses!
3. Share Best Practices and Proactively Coach
Leveraging the above concept, don’t forget to frequently get the team together to share what is going well and, more importantly, what is NOT going well. One best practice is establishing a weekly team meeting where there is a specific outcome to be achieved. A few things to consider would be:
Reviewing specific call plans for an upcoming sales call to discuss what we know, what we don't know, and the most important questions to ask to advance the decision process
Role practice specific skills such as leaving voicemails, what you will do when they pick up the phone, and how you will handle objections (think situational scrimmaging).
Ask the team to bring a list of prospects and make some calls together, critiquing each call and elevating the skills of the entire team.
Additionally, we must provide very consistent on-the-spot coaching and constructive coaching where necessary. This will keep our teams focused on the company's overall strategy, executing on the most important activities, and constantly elevating the skill sets needed for each team member. And don't forget to provide public, positive reinforcement to those team members that are demonstrating personal accountability…it will definitely be contagious.
If you are struggling with a team that unleashes these powerful Socially Acceptable Excuses, Butler Street can help. Our Leadership Effectiveness training, available as a vILT weekly program, or independent eLearning course, provides the tools and processes to build team that deliver and successful leaders that create your future leaders. Contact us to learn more.