As a company leader you have pressure from someone to achieve results, with or without COVID-19. Naturally, you delegate some tasks expecting results, time goes by and when it is delivered it is not delivered as you wanted it. ¿What happened? There might be many reasons including issues of leadership, productivity, communication, motivation and capabilities. The good news is that, even though your maneuvering space might be limited in some of the previous issues, it is possible to understand the problem by clearly establishing accountability.
Clear responsibilities. Sometimes it is not enough to give a clear indication. If an employee thinks that what was asked of them is not their responsibility or is beyond their capabilities, they will have difficulty executing it. We bring someone to a position, and we want them to do many things, but if the job descriptions say something different to what was requested, there is no alignment between roles and responsibilities. Even worse if there is no job description. The lack of clarity in job descriptions can generate conflicts, even between supervisor and supervised. ¿How can we expect people to fulfil their responsibilities if they are not clearly stated? It is recommended to have an induction when someone gets a new position, this will ease the management of specific assignments.
Workload balance. We delegate on executors a disproportioned number of tasks. People have different strengths, some are detailed oriented, others are people oriented, others result oriented, in short… to each their own. The truth is that bosses tend to be result oriented and identify with subordinates that provide quick answers. If Jose delivers the results I want in the allotted time, and I have another important task to execute, my first instinct will be to delegate to Jose, however, Jose might be overloaded. This is not fair to anyone. Monitoring the workload of each member of the team will allow us to have balance and to develop cooperation diagrams according to strengths of each.
Joint planning. Giving orders is easy, but when tasks are complex there needs to be teamwork to establish achievable plans in a specific timeframe. First, deliverables and due dates have to be established very clearly. With these clear, we have a good start. Along the road, pressure and suppression do not help. On the contrary, discussions to find solutions frequently allow the resolution of difficulties. Bosses should create an environment that promotes open communication to achieve agreements and generate results. Likewise, when setting annual goals for a performance review, it is important to set realistic objectives that are mutually agreed upon.
Empowerment with follow up. People are more productive when they are given the liberty to develop with certain amount of autonomy. They are not just more productive, they also grow professionally and feel more motivated. But giving autonomy does not mean not monitoring advances. It is ideal to have weekly or daily meetings depending on the style of the leader, following up on timelines, performance measurements and monthly advance reports or any tool that eases the understanding of advances and identifies obstacles to overcome. With telecommuting this is even more critical.
All of the above helps each person feel responsibility and commitment to results. Achieving an accountability framework takes time and must be improved continuously, but it is necessary. Sensible accountability is the best ally to the achievement of results by the team.