Recently, I shared with you the first 7 of 15 tips to improve accountability of employees working from home (as well as in the office). Here are the remaining 8.
1. Stop doing their work – Don’t measure accountability of others if you’re rescuing them by doing their work. In this case, the accountability you need to question is your own. While it may be faster to fix the problem or do the work yourself, you’re setting the stage for greater accountability problems in the future.
2. Give your direct reports room to pursue their own agenda – When most people know they have permission to work on their own ideas to help the company grow or improve, their focus on standard work activities improves. Let your reports know they can spend a portion of their time developing their ideas and bringing them to fruition. You might be surprised with the contributions people make that helps move the company forward if they’re given the chance.
3. Formal 1:1s every three weeks – What you think a direct report should be held accountable for and what they think they are being held accountable to, comes from ensuring alignment with that person. Formal 1:1s every three weeks reinforces that alignment. Send me a quick note and I’ll send you my 1 page Agenda for 1:1 Meetings with Direct Reports.
4. Coach, don’t command – Often, when we’re under stress or the adrenaline is flowing, we’ll dispense with protocol and best practices and command our desires to employees rather than coach them. Accountability doesn’t come from training people to be obedient and fearful. It comes from coaching to engage in activities and practices to improve results. They then take the personal responsibility to incorporate new ways of getting things done to actually get them done.
5. Create a plan of activities – Ask direct reports to write a list of everything they’re working on. Next, have them isolate the most important, strategic goal activities from that list. Prioritize those activities and have them create a 10 step plan to take those critical projects to completion. Go over those plans in your 1:1s.
6. Accept some employees do not work well remotely and they’re going to struggle with doing what needs to get done. If they’re someone who doesn’t have this problem when working in the office but they do when remote, then you’re going to need to give them a little more attention during this time than you otherwise would. Encouragement, inspiration, sensitivity and genuine caring will go a long way to help people along. That loss of camaraderie you might be feeling, they’re feeling it too and it does affect performance.
7. Be transparent about what the future holds – It’s well known that with many employees, stress and anxiety affects performance. No one likes to be left guessing about what their future holds, especially when it comes to their livelihoods. Be clear on where the business stands and the different contingency plans in place as events unfold. Everything you can do in stressful times by relieving employee concerns about their well-being will improve productivity and overall job performance.
8. Appreciation – For companies deemed essential over the past three months, be sure to show appreciation for employees by making that appreciation personal. Don’t just hand out money. Show them you care about them and their family. Ask them what matters most to their family right now and find a way to contribute toward making that a reality. It certainly takes more effort, but great places to work are worth the effort for the benefits everyone enjoys.
9. Bonus – Improve your own accountability whether it’s to a Board, peer group or coach.
So, recapping the 15 tips to improve accountability of employees working remotely:
- Daily group huddles
- Re-examine assumptions
- Explicit expectations
- Eliminate overload
- Head off excuses
- Create a failure list
- Accountability buddy
- Stop doing others work
- Let employees pursue their own ideas
- Formal 1:1s
- Coach, don’t command
- Write down all activities and prioritize
- Accept remote isn’t right for everyone
- Be transparent
- Bonus: Your own accountability & performance
Make a commitment to implement one or two of these action steps within the next 24 hours. Give it a couple of weeks to take root and notice your time utilization going up and the mood, quality of work and enthusiasm of your employees follow suit.