This is the fourth in a series of video blogs on improving your corporate culture by cultivating employee accountability.
You can read the summary of the video below:
We’re looking for people who will step up, do the job and be accountable, whether things go wrong or right. In our last session, we talked about professional practices. It’s really important for you to be clear that you expect your employees to engage in them.
Habits like work habits, interpersonal effectiveness, ethical behaviors, and positive approaches. Under positive approaches, we talked about the PAL model. It says that when things are not as you want, you only have three healthy options in life:
P – You can be PROACTIVE in fixing the problem.
A – You can ACCEPT it and figure out what you’re going to do to live with it.
L – You can LEAVE.
Discuss How Employees Can Be Proactive
I think it’s important for employees to understand that this is an expectation you have. Some ways to do that are conducting a training session where you discuss how people can be proactive with some issues and there’s not much you can do about others.
For example, they may be able to be proactive getting their working hours adjusted, but there’s not much they can do about the location of the facility where they work. So, you have to learn what you can change, what you will accept, and what you’re willing to quit over.
If you want a healthy corporate culture, it’s important to be clear that you expect employees to apply PAL rather than engaging in whining and gripe sessions, sabotage and other unhealthy behaviors.
The Willingness to Grow in the Corporate Culture
In developing a healthy corporate culture, another professional practice about which you should be clear is a willingness to grow.
When people are engaged in a healthy pursuit of growth, corporate culture grows as well. It’s up to managers to express the expectation that each employee looks for ways to grow professionally. It’s just as important that management encourage growth and support with opportunities for education, training, and expanded job experience.
Give Employees What They Need…
I worked with a CEO of a chemical coating company who had a really interesting approach to this. When he would hire new employees, he would explain to them that he didn’t want them in the same job more than two years. After that, they needed to either change the job to be more expansive, find a different job within the organization or even find a different job outside the organization. Either way, he would help with that process.
I asked him if that wasn’t defeating the purpose of hiring. After all, he’s encouraging employee turnover from the first day of hire. He replied, “It’s a trade-off. When you really encourage people to grow, they can do fabulous things that contribute to the organization. The price is that sometimes they go elsewhere in order to fulfill the dreams that were expanded by the added training and education. On the other hand, most DON’T leave, and their contribution to the organization soars.
It goes to the principle mentioned earlier in this series on the corporate culture that to the degree you give people what they need, they will give you what you need.
Willingness to Take Responsibility
Another professional practice to be clear about is your expectation for them to take initiative when there’s a problem to be solved – don’t just sit there and not act.
Likewise, when things go wrong, a professional practice worth clarifying is a willingness to take responsibility. When things go wrong there often is a temptation to point fingers and blame others. Some of that is human nature.
I’m reminded of my wife. We grew up across the street from each other, I am an only child where she was one of eight brothers and sisters. She explained to me that in her family, it was important to fight for what was yours or you’d get the tail end of everything. On spring mornings, when the windows were open, I remember hearing her and her sisters fighting over who got the choice underwear for the school that day.
After we married, we were getting ready for work one morning and were stressed because the alarm hadn’t gone off. In the midst of our panic, she shouted out, “Alright, who stole my pantyhose?”
She looked at me, I looked at the dog and the dog looked to me, and I said, “I don’t think either of us did.” There was a pause, and then she cracked up laughing and apologized.
Convey the Expectation to Your Employees
So, though it’s human nature to blame others if your corporate culture is to be healthy, it’s very important that you convey the expectation to your employees that it’s something to avoid.
The final professional practice to consider is a return on investment.
That is, to be clear with your employees that you expect a certain return on investment for the investment you, your team and your organization have invested in them. This applies to both the private sector and the public sector, to both the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors. I think it’s okay to chat about expecting a return on investment from the employee.
In the last two sessions, we’ve talked about expectations around the idea of professional practices including:
- work habits
- interpersonal effectiveness
- ethical behavior
- positive approaches
- willingness to grow
- to take an initiative
- take responsibility
- a return on investment
The Clarification of the Expectations
I suggest you do this exercise with each of the employees who report to you.
Follow all 4 steps:
1: List three expectations you have of this employee
2: List three expectations you think this employee has of you
3: Have the employee list three expectations he or she has of you
4: Have the employee list three expectations he or she thinks you have of him or her
Then, sit down with each employee and compare the lists.
It can be a marvelous opportunity to clarify what you expect from each other and go a long way toward building a corporate culture, an organizational culture or a team culture that is positive, productive and healthy.