Better Leaders, Better Results

I have seen different groups in different organizations and I always find different levels of productivity. At one end, there are remarkably high productivity teams that have managed to implement best practices, processes and systems, where objectives are clear, people are motivated and great results are achieved. At the other end, there are teams with poor results, low morale, conflicts, and job dissatisfaction.

Many factors influence these differences. The factors can include things such as a deficient strategy, changes do to the Covid pandemic, conflicts between employees and slow adoption of needed technology, among others. However, all of them are more manageable when there’s a good boss.

A study by McKinsey reveals that the second factor with the most impact on life satisfaction is work satisfaction (the first is mental health), and the factor that most influence has on work satisfaction is interpersonal relations, within which 86% is driven by relationships with management.

Within relationships with management, the most important relationship is with the direct boss. Good bosses are not must managers, but leaders that inspire and motivate. They worry, not only about results, but also about the team’s wellbeing. They allow each member of the team to develop their capabilities and empowers them. They communicate a clear direction and establish realistic expectations.

During this time, when Covid has caused a lot of additional stress and human interation has been limited, it is essential that employees be valued, that they recognize the impact of their work, and perform in an emotionally safe environment.

Many bosses get to high ranks thanks to individual accomplishments and projection of self-confidence, but those person-centered attributes don’t necessarily translate into good leadership. According to Why are Great Managers so Rare by Randall Beck and James Harter, companies fail to choose the right talent 82% of the time. But it’s not the end of the world. Companies can improve by guiding and training their managers.

To improve management quality, bosses should:

  1. Develop trust with the team: Trust takes time. Showing interest in each person’s wellbeing, not just at work but in their lives, allows you to understand what difficulties they can be going through and to help them overcome them. You must be honest and empathic. Yes, you have to put yourself in their shoes and understand how to say things before opening your mouth. A clear and sympathetic communication will allow the team to feel comfortable with you and communicate timely.
  2. Provide a clear direction: Whatever the strategy of the company, the boss has to clearly state what the strategy means and how each one contributes to the objectives, the importance of the work they do and the expected results. Regarding results, you need to talk about it with each one. It takes time, but it is the best way to get commitment with them. And this is not all, frequent follow up is required.
  3. Guide and empower employees: People’s level of experience and knowledge varies. A new employee will need guidance and training, and the supervisor must enable it. But as know-how is acquired, you must empower people. Few things at work can bring as much satisfaction as a job well done and empowering the members of the team improves the results of whole team. Some may see this as a threat, but it really is the complete opposite. Developing a direct report is the best proof of being a good boss.
  4. Roll up your sleeves and work with them: Sometimes it seems like some managers are there only to give orders. On the contrary, bosses are also trainers. If you got that position because of your experience and the team is not getting the results, you need to take a deep dive into the work of the group and understand what is not working, what can be improved, what is missing and do what others are doing. This is a chance to show what you know and get loyalty from your team.
  5. Recognize victories and mistakes: There’s nothing worse than an ungrateful boss, or one that takes the team’s victory as his own. When a person does something good, thank then soon after. People look for validation and recognition. It is a basic need. Give recognition publicly and correct others in private. When a mistake’s been made, you must be frank and identify lessons learned to move forward and grow. This goes both ways, don’t just give feedback, also ask for it, to improve as a boss.

All of this will bring better results. Motivated employees learn more, increase their productivity and improve the quality of their work. This, in turn, produces better products and services, which makes for satisfied customers and improves profitability. Moreover, having a good boss makes people happier, an that is priceless.

 

5 Keys to a Successful Reorg

The Covid crisis is still a huge weight on the economy. Many companies have been forced to restructure because of this crisis, simplifying their structure and reducing personnel. Several others have tried to stay afloat to avoid leaving the team hanging. But with a prolongated duration of the pandemic, it is very possible they will have to choose between shotting down operations or making big changes to survive.

Whether to reduce costs, refocus efforts, reinvent the business model, or, in cases such as those in the technology industry, to maximize growth, a reorganization is a process that, if well done, produces positive impacts. But it is often taken lightly, producing deficient results, affecting the work environment and the company’s productivity.

Whatever the nature of the need, always keep in mind the following elements to have a successful reorg:

  1. Have a clear strategy. The direction of the company has be extremely clear for all those involved so that the structure enables the achievement of the goals established in the strategy. It is possible that, given the market changes, the strategy may have to be revised. Having clear objectives from the beginning paves the way and helps avoid mistakes. For example, a reorganization that only focuses on cost can affect the entity’s effectiveness in fulfilling its reason for being. You must have an integral vision.
  2. Know the operation and the environment. To identify opportunities, a clear understanding of the different areas, their processes and functions is needed. Understanding what makes us different, what activities we do well, and which are easily replicable, sheds light on how to distribute resources. But having an internal view is not enough. Benchmarking and comparing our practices to that of the industry is key. Are we cost efficient producing this vs other companies? Can we do this function competitively? Understanding the company’s position relative to the market allows us to identify improvement opportunities.
  3. Generate consensus. Evaluating organizational changes with the team can be uncomfortable. The most affected people could be sitting at the table. However, to facilitate the execution of the project it is important to have open discussions and consider multiple options. Some managers tend to focus on boxes (who reports to whom), when what is important is how it works (processes, capabilities, behaviors, etc.). Evaluating alternatives allows considering the pros and cons of each option. An open and structured discussion puts you in a better position to manage change.
  4. Closely follow up on the implementation. After all the analyses to adjust the structure, the layers of different levels, reviewing the teams and their functions, and getting an approved design, we still have implementation left. The complexity of the implementation is directly proportional to the size of the changes in the structure, and it requires adequate resources to do it successfully. Whether revising job descriptions, adjusting payroll, costs, and revenues, changing systems, or accompanying impacted personnel, it is necessary to establish a realistic schedule and follow up closely.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Reorgs without proper communication can generate an uncomfortable, and even hostile work environment. Uncertainty generates stress and anguish, reducing productivity. There must be communication in every phase of the process. If the leaders clearly communicate the reasons for the changes and the objectives, with constant, sensible, and personalized communication, the change will be smoother. On the other hand, fomenting open communication and feedback can bring in better solutions and corrective measures that improve overall results.

Even with these recommendations, reorganizing a company may be difficult. It is not realistic to think everything will go perfect from the beginning. It involves the human side and affect the entire company. But all companies are going through some type of disruption and many will have to face change.

Change is constant, only adapting can we evolve. A well-managed reorg will allow the company to maximize value it can generate. Those who can adapt to their environment will the ones who win in the long run.

Personal Strategy 2021

The year 2020 began badly, there were forest fires in Australia that ended up causing the death of approximately 500 million animals, COVID-19 was already lurking, and by March it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and had reached more than 1.5 million deaths.  Several celebrities died including Kobee Bryant, Eddie Van Halen, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek and Chadwick Boseman, there was a terrible explosion in Beirut, George Floyd’s death and the protests that followed polarized the United States even more reaching November with was possibly the most controversial elections in the country’s history.

In Panama things are not going well either.  The economy, which was already slowing down, has seen a drastic drop in its GDP.  It is projected that the GDP for 2020 will be 14% less than the previous year.  Debt is growing at a tremendous rate, the landslides that affected the Chiriqui highlands, the increase in domestic violence cases, the daily acts of corruption and unemployment which is projected to reach 25% by the end of the year, possibly without taking into account those with suspended contracts.

Physically and emotionally we have faced many challenges, so many have had to face the loss of a loved one, others got sick and are left with side effects which mean they will have to manage their health with greater care going forward.  Not being able to see our families and friends as we would like makes us sad.  ¿Who doesn´t miss hugs and live conversations without a mask?

Everything I’ve mentioned above has something in common, that it is all out of our control.  Maybe we can influence some, but we cannot control the results completely.  That is why I suggest that in 2021 we accept the things we cannot control and strive to improve the things that we can.

Businessmen cannot control COVID-19 regulations or restrictions, nor the changes in consumption patterns, but they can assess the possibility of adjusting their business models to adapt.  We cannot control every member of our family and guarantee that no one is going to get sick, but we can create awareness, ease the implementation of preventive measures in our surroundings and prevent the spread at a personal level.  Someone looking for a job or a promotion, cannot control the decisions of others but, they can work on their curriculum and look for opportunities to increase their visibility in front of decision makers.  We cannot control the weather, but we can have an umbrella in our cars.  When we are confined to our homes, we cannot go out, but we can plan to make it more entertaining; we can’t see our friends, but we can call them or arrange virtual meetings.  We cannot control unemployment and hunger, but maybe we can help.

I hope that the things that are out of our control are not as hard as 2020, but even if 2021 hits us again, as the saying goes… “if life gives you lemons, learn to how to make lemonade”.  If we have a problem, ¿isn’t it better to focus on how to improve the situation, instead of waiting for something out of our control to change? And, if we want to change our destiny, ¿isn’t it better to look for what we can do to change it instead of dreaming of someone to miraculously help us?

Taking control of our attitude and our actions and with awareness of what we can and cannot control, we can take away the satisfaction of having done everything possible to improve our circumstances and maybe of the people around us.  In 2021, which will probably won’t be easy, my wish is that we take control of our attitude, that we choose to be happier and that we have the wisdom  to accept what we cannot control and the strength to fight for what is really important.  ¡Merry Christmas and Happy 2021!

How to Have Successfull Strategy Sessions

The time of the year when we must hold workshops with our executive team and our directors, to review and establish the direction our company will take, has arrived.  Scheduling it is a challenge, everyone must set aside one or two days out of their busy schedules.  Some are less enthusiastic than others to have to dedicate so much time to this and might see it as a waste of time.  One more year of the same discussions that don’t land on any big decisions, or that don’t make any significant impact on the company’s results.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  On the contrary, participating in a dynamic, participatory strategic session with accurate and interesting content can be a stimulating and entertaining experience.  Executives and directors deserve sessions that are at the level of the challenges they are facing.

To hold productive and successful strategic workshops, after establishing and agreeing on the dates, it is necessary to address several points:

  1. Ensure a facilitation aligned with expectations: There are several types of facilitators, some are educational, which bring a predetermined format, and follow a script that applies to different businesses.  There are all terrain facilitators, that adapt to anything and that follow the design that the company asked for.  On the other hand, there are immersive facilitators that study the company and seek to understand their needs well and, based on the information obtained, design a workshop to meet their needs.  These are three very different types of workshops, and their costs vary significantly, not just because of the methodology applied, but because of the experience of the facilitator.  It is important that the people in charge have clarity on what they want, and choose someone with whom they will feel comfortable. 
  2. Identify key subjects to be discussed: We live in a complex world, much more complex than what it was a year ago, before COVID-19.  Having clarity on key subjects is not as easy as it seems.  Therefore, it is necessary for the CEO or General Manager to be involved in defining which subjects should be discussed and defined during strategic sessions.  Subjects may vary from critical operational decisions to establishing objectives and goals.  There should only be a few subjects, the time is limited, and you should not bite off more than you can chew.  The important thing is to know what needs to be defined to propel the competitiveness of the company.   
  3. Collect information and perform the necessary analyses: It isn´t enough to define the subjects.  Bringing relevant information to sessions to enrich discussions is key.  A workshop where participants don’t receive important information can end up giving more of the same, especially in environments where there can be “groupthink”.  This last case, when people have a lot of time working together and generally have similar points of view, they need new information to take them out of their comfort zones and think about other possibilities. 
  4. Design content: Either it be content designed by the company or by the facilitator, the important thing is that it meets the established expectations.  The content will also depend on the format of the session.  If the sessions are virtual, it will be necessary to use programs such as Miro and Menti to simulate live sessions, and the duration of the sessions should be shorter, since remaining in a sitting position for 8 hours for a virtual workshop is much more draining than being in a live session.  Whatever the format, the facilitator must keep in mind the needs of the client and figure out how to meet them in the allotted time. 
  5. Bring energy and dynamism to the sessions: The design of the workshop is critical for its success, but if the facilitator and the participants don’t have energy, willingness to participate and lack interest, the workshop will not be productive.  In a virtual environment, these aspects can be even more challenging.  Having previous conversations with the participants, generating interest for the workshop, having interesting content and making key questions, help develop strategic sessions with positive impact.  The true value of these meetings is in  way the participants think and in the exchange of ideas that are generated, not in the monologues, lectures or dense presentations. 
  6. Generate commitment: A strategic session typically involves decision making.  But with diverse groups, it is difficult for everyone to agree100% on everything.  Even when there is not complete agreement, it is necessary to generate commitments.  Leading an impartial and objective discussion allows those which opinions are not favored in final decisions to accept them.  For example, one can be 60% in agreement but that doesn’t mean one cannot be 100% committed.  When the session comes to an end, participants should be committed to supporting and executing the decisions made. 

Strategy workshops are a challenge in any company.  But successful strategic sessions are a powerful tool for the successful management of an organization.  I hope these recommendations make your next session easier.

Be Cautious with KPIs!

Many businesses, responsibly, establish cyclical strategic processes.  They perform these processes to have clarity regarding their competitive environment, establish goals and set key performance indicators (KPIs).  It is common sense, to achieve something, you have to manage it, and if we measure our advances it will be easier to achieve it.

However, it is common for businesses to make the following mistakes:

  1. To many KPIs.  According to PWC’s Guide to KPIs, businesses should have between 4 and 10 key indicators.  Businesses are complex, and sometimes we want to measure everything, but the reality is that this is counterproductive.  When you are managing 30 KPIs at an executive level, the reality is that they stop being KPIs, because no one pays attention to long reports, and the information is not use for decision making.  For example, if we want to improve customer satisfaction the key indicator can be to reach 90% customer satisfaction.  Of course, this indicator can have other subcomponents that measure different areas, for example, time of service, survey results and rate of customer retention.  The point is, at a global level, everyone needs to understand that the objective is customer satisfaction and know if it is being achieved; maybe not everyone needs to know the time of service, except the people in operations. 
  2. Misguided KPIs.  Sometimes indicators are chosen because of their ease of measurement and not because of their relation to objectives.  For example, it is very common to use indicators about the percentage of progress on a timeline.  But if what you need is to finish a project on a certain date and within an estimated budget, what needs to be measured is the percentage of variation with the timeline and the budget, this way we will notice if we are late or over budget.  Other times, indicators are chosen without evaluating the unwanted impacts or results they might have.  The already typical Wells Fargo case, where 3.5 million in bank accounts and credit cards were generated, without the consent of the clients, because employee performance was measured by the number of accounts created.  The reality is that this huge bank had a strategy of maintaining long lasting relationships with their clients, and the pressure of meeting this indicator took this strategy and the company’s values overboard.   
  3. Turn KPIs into strategies.  When a strategy is established for the first time, it is interesting and even exciting to perform analyses to find the way to get a sustainable competitive advantage to an organization.  Later, a process is established for the formulation of objectives, goals, indicators and initiatives that becomes cyclical.  The problem is that the strategy has to be revised every so often, and sometimes it happens that the strategy turns into only formulating goals and KPIs.  The importance of analyzing the environment, the competition, the industry and the clients is lost.  Without these analyses a strategy or a group of conscious actions that allow the addition of value and superior financial results cannot be defined.  

This doesn’t mean that there is no need to measure.  Measurement and follow up are the most effective ways of execution.  But the process of planning indicators requires the investment of time, knowledge, and a critical view that allows the selection of the right indicators and the measurement of what is really important, easing de achievement of outstanding results.

5 Signs that it’s Time to Rethink the Strategy

A few days ago, a friend was telling me that he was interested in doing strategic planning, but he really didn’t know if it was the right time.  This is an understandable doubt, the world in in crisis due to COVID-19 and there is no certainty of when the virus will be under control.

This is a particularly hard time for businesses. Many have been affected to the point of bankruptcy, others survive by the inertia of some activities that they were already doing, but don’t have great projection on a short term and, a few others, due to the nature of their products or services are having a positive year.

If one has a clear strategy and considers that even with the COVID-19 crisis, its business model will remain current and will continue bringing value to its clients, no major adjustments should be made.

However, there are signs that may indicate that the strategy needs to be reviewed.  Some of them are:

1. The services or products that represent most of the income have been significantly affected

Beyond the coronavirus, there are times when the offer simply does not have that much value to the market.  Sales drop, income declines and this becomes a multi-annual tendency.  It is possible that the business model as it was conceptualized is about to run out. 

2. The internal team is not aligned

This is the typical situation in which, for example, finance pulls to one side and operations pulls to the other.  Or marketing promises one thing and production is doing another.  These flaws in team alignment show a lack of clarity in the global strategy and possible silo behavior where each person is looking out for their own interests without considering the wellbeing of the entire team.

3. The company is investing in what everyone else is doing because it is a trend and not because it understands its impact on the strategy

Sometimes organizations start investing in things such as digital transformation or social media because everyone is doing it.  It gives them the sense that they are keeping up with the changing environment.  And it very well might be, but many times, when investments are made in trends are you can’t see quantifiable results, it is because there was no strategic thinking regarding the role of these investments on results. 

4. There is no clarity about opportunities and how to provide sustainability to the business 

There’s a collective feeling of being adrift.  Future perspective is uncertain and there is no clear direction.  There’s no clear view of how the business will look like in five years.  The environment has changed very much and previously used tactics no longer have the desired impact. 

5. The target market is too broad

As the saying goes, don’t bite off more that you can chew.  If you expect your products or services to be for everyone, you are probably over servicing some and under servicing others.  In the great majority of cases, it is not realistic to think that a single product or service is exactly what everyone needs. 

Learning to recognize the signs is important to make timely adjustments and redirect efforts.  It takes time, but is time well spent if we are able to identify how to add value to our clients.

What Strategy is and what it isn’t

Throughout the year I have had many discussions about what is and what is not strategy.  The Word is overused and, too frequently, used wrongly. 

Mission, vision and values are not strategy, they are statements that help communicate strategy.  For them to help, they have to be very clear.  But alone, without having equally clear plans of action, they are not very useful.  A SWOT, an environment analysis, a competence analysis or a client analysis are not strategies.  They are analyses that help define a strategy, but they are not the strategy.  It is not enough to know what we can improve, the important thing is to know what we should improve and why should improve it. 

Likewise, a brand strategy, a sales and marketing strategy, a price strategy, are not the strategy, they are components of it.  Without a macro strategy, developing these components separately can produce undesirable results.  For example, ¿how will it help us to have an aggressive and spectacular social media penetration strategy if our niche target market is not active in social media?

Being strategic involves knowing the field, the environment, the market, the client, as well as our strengths and weaknesses.  Anyone who performs a strategic exercise without this information cannot identify opportunities and act on them with authority. 

Many things can happen due to the lack of strategy.  Following I explain three.  One, is that an arbitrary direction is being followed, by inertia, which is not necessarily well thought out and limits future possibilities.  As an example, a company that has been the pioneer in the services it provides, opts for doing things the same way it is used to and does not considering changes in management.  After all, it has an important market participation thanks to its trajectory, and it seems improbable that things will change overnight.  In a case like this, without consciously deciding it, the company falls on a cash cow strategy, without exploring its options in depth. 

The second is that, without direction, the efforts of the team go in different directions and opportunities are lost due to the lack of criteria.  Let’s say that an organization has a generic strategic statement that reads “leader of the regional organic chocolate market”.  The production team can interpret that it should manufacture the purest and most refined chocolate in the market, while the sales team may assume that this implies selling more volume.  They both can be opposites and negatively affect each other.  

The third is falling into a herd behavior, in which you do what the masses say.  We can run and make a digital transformation, webinars, service certifications, innovation and a thousand other things just because they are on trend, and not because the impact they might have on the company and its position was thought out.  It does not mean that these things are not necessary – they might be- but there has to be clarity as to their role in the strategy of the company.

The strategy is a well-informed plan, executable, and directed towards improving the competitive position in a sustainable manner.  As simple as that.  But, to get to that point, there has to be analysis and planification.  If not, we fall on misguided strategies without knowing it.

The Ugly, the Bad and the Good about Telecommuting

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to work from home.  In spite of the fact that few enjoy being cooped up at home, a lot of people do enjoy the idea of telecommuting and hope that this modality extends beyond COVID-19.  Not everything about working remotely is peaches and cream, but I think it has more advantages than disadvantages. 

The ugly includes the lack of trust of some towards the employees and the abuse of some in the telecommuting modality.  Not trusting the employees results in detailed time registries or activity monitoring software that can feel as an invasion of privacy and which revision can overload both the employees as well as the supervisors.  On the other hand, there might be employees working from home that use tools that simulate work activity, such as automatic mouse movements.  None of these extremes is good.  This is why team trust should be cultivated and work should be based on specific targets.  ¿What is the use of monitoring the details if nothing is accomplished?  One can work all day without being productive. 

The bad about telecommuting are the expenses needed to implement it and the lack of human contact.  If the company was not technologically prepared, it must make the investments needed and acquire the tools to make remote work easier.  Employees will also have to adjust their homes and establish a space to work, which can increase their electricity, internet, and office equipment expenses.  The ergonomic issue is also worrisome.  Offices have proper desks, chairs and monitors for good posture, and homes not necessarily so, but this is a necessary investment if you are telecommuting long term.  Another issue is communication.  Sharing office space allows us to also share informal conversations which generate camaraderie and friendships.  The lack of this type of exchanges can make work colder and impersonal and not everyone knows how to deal with this aspect. 

The good … this includes a lot of things.  First, more time with the pillow, not having to travel from home to our workplace gives us a little more flexibility to sleep and spend more time with our family, and the body is grateful for those extra minutes of sleep.  Second, more control of your time.  For those who live far from their workplace, this is a blessing.  The time spent traveling from one place to another can be replaced by activities that we enjoy more.  Third, more productivity.  Not having distractions with people working around us or our coworkers that want to chat, makes us more focused and more productive during working hours.  Fourth, companies that adopt long term telecommuting can save on office space and public services.  Fifth, innovation.  This new reality is generating all kinds of solutions to make our lives easier and has forced us to adopt them, which propels us to another level.  I am excited by the new things that are coming out.  And finally, health.  Telecommuting, especially during COVID-19, if possible in our professions, is the most sensible decision for the health of the team.  Clearly, the positive aspects outweigh the negatives.  Telecommuting is here to stay.  Although adjustments need to be made to tend to this new normal, COVID-19 threw the obsolete theory that work had to be done on site overboard and we have proved that it is possible and that it works.  During these changing times, the ones that adapt faster will have a better chance of success. 

Jumping from the Operational to the Strategic

It is natural for leaders to develop a career that begins operationally and that, with the achievement of results, moves up to different leadership positions thanks to analytical, technical and management skills.  The operational leader is of the utmost importance and their knowledge of operational issues enables the understanding of the minutiae of the work at different levels.

When operational or technical leaders reach the highest level of the company, they are faced with a different management than they are used to.  They can no longer focus only on the results of the operational area, but in all areas of the organization, and they must make decisions that affect the sustainability of the organizations through time. 

The change from operational mentality to strategic vision can be difficult, but it can be made.  To achieve it, it is important to understand the complexities of the market, the competitive advantages, the relationships between the different areas of company and the motivations of the personnel, among others. 

It is common to see organizations with operational leaders lose sight of the importance of strategy, and at the same time, lose the opportunity consistently motivate the entire team in one clear direction.  I believe they think that venturing into strategic issues, which can be somewhat philosophical, can be perceived as a weakness.  On the contrary, the leaders who understand the power of strategy, are the ones who dare to dream and paint the desired future, the ones that move their workforce and achieve truly extraordinary things.  

To achieve the change from operational to strategic mentality, it might be necessary to invest in the development of the leaders.  Only with clarity on the importance of strategy can the desired impact be achieved.  This change in paradigm and its impact in the organizational culture involves understanding the current situation, the desired changes, going through the rounds and following up on advances.  It can take time, but it is time well spent. 

The definition of strategy, led by the head, but with the participation of the key personnel team, allows results to permeate and cascade to the rest of the organization in a natural and rapid manner.  With the base strategy defined, strategic discussions should be ongoing, and these accompanied by participation, communication and certain malleability, allow the company to move in an accelerated manner. 

A well-defined strategy, that has consensus from the leaders of the organization, and is backed up by follow up mechanisms, communication and revision, is the best tool that a CEO can have, with its team, to achieve great success. 

Accountability

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.