“They just keep messing it up. We have had more callbacks, and it seems like we have projects that just never finish.” The Visionary, Tom, told his team in frustration. He went on to add, “Our projects are on budget right up to the point they are supposed to be done, and then we lose money in the extra work and small punch list items. We have to retool our process and get this fixed!”
Just as frustrated, Frank (the Integrator) boldly responded, “No, we don’t!” All eyes turned to Frank. “We can’t create policies and processes to drive accountability. The problem, plain and simple, is poor management.”
Wow! Now we are getting somewhere, I thought. I could see the light bulbs coming on over a few heads. “We have to stop talking around this problem and start managing the team,” Frank added. What made this all the better was that he was the person who used to lead this team. He had recently passed on the management responsibilities to a new leader who was doing good work but hadn’t turned the ship around yet. He was essentially calling himself out.
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At this point, we started to dig into specifics. One of the glaring issues was that the team wasn’t having the tough discussions needed to drive accountability: the corrective actions when people weren’t following the process, the strike meetings when people were below the bar with the company values or the quality review follow-ups with the team explaining what was subpar work. “Management is only tough when you don’t have the tough conversations,” I told the group.
One of the managers present agreed and told us about his teams. “With the Fabrication team, I just need to keep them on the rails. I have had a couple of tough conversations, and the team has responded. They are rockin’ it now.” His teams had become accountable because of the way he was managing them.
You don’t need the perfect policies and processes to have a truly accountable team. It certainly helps, but my most accountable teams are the ones that are well managed. In EOS®, we like to say that having an accountable team is simple math: L+M=A: leadership plus management equals accountability.
This is a great place to start with your teams. Dig in and be the manager they need to reach their full potential. This includes loving them enough to have tough conversations. You’ll be amazed at how you can drive accountability in your people.