When describing systems, automobile engines are often used as an example. A system is made up of four components: input, process,
output, and a feedback loop for control. An automobile engine is made up of the same components, input (fuel, air and spark),
process (combustion), and output (work). The design of the engine defines what work will be done. Fuel, air and fire are
ignited in an engine creating an explosion which provides energy to move the automobile down the road. Feedback for this type
of system is provided by gauges and sensors. The driver uses information from the gauges to control the automobile. For
instance, feedback is provided by a speedometer. It may inform the driver that he is going slower than the minimum speed.
The driver realizes that he should speed up. The driver presses on the accelerator, which causes more fuel to go to the engine,
more combustion occurs, more energy is created and the automobile goes faster.
In a business system, inputs for work are
employees, raw materials, time, and tools or equipment. The process is the work activities themselves, and the outputs are the
products made or work accomplished. In organizations position descriptions and procedures define the work processes and supervisors
provide the necessary feedback so that employees know when and how to modify their effort and behavior.
describes an employee accountability system where work expectations are defined in writing. Feedback is provided by supervisors through
coaching, performance evaluations, and as necessary, a discipline program to bring the employee’s performance back to the expected
norm. With feedback, employees are encouraged to modify their effort and behavior which in turn impacts the work being performed.
EMPLOYEE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM AS A ROADMAP
The concept of accepting responsibility for our own actions, while not new, seems almost
rare in today’s business environment. Businesses must realize that their success in critical areas such as: customer service, productivity,
quality control, employee retention, compliance, reliability, and overall goal achievement is directly associated with accountable
An employee accountability system is a road map for the success of your company. It establishes a written and quantitative
set of performance and work expectations. Employees can use them to help them to achieve greater levels of success. Employees
want to know the correct route to travel, the tasks they need to accomplish and the milestones along the way. When expectations change
or are unclear, it’s like running a race without a finish line. The result is lack of effort and little motivation. Too much
guesswork ends in inefficiency and poor results.
Productivity and accountability are about getting the right things done correctly,
accurately, and on time. When businesses struggle to reach their goals and objectives or cannot identify why employee productivity
and performance are not meeting expectations, it may be time to implement an employee accountability system.
To be held accountable,
employees must have been given the responsibility or assignment for performing the job and the necessary authority, skills, tools,
resources, time and training to carry it out. The assignment must include expectations to define or clarify what has to be done,
how it has to be done, and identify the results to be measured to ensure that what was supposed to happen did happen.
A system of employee accountability starts with written expectations, so that they are clearly understood. The
suggested written format for documenting and sharing work rules and benefits is an employee manual. It is also an important
reference for supervisors as it uniformly and objectively clarifies Company benefits, policies, procedures, and work rules.
In addition, it establishes ownership and management’s backing of the supervisor’s role to help enforce the expectations. As
all supervisors will use this tool, uniformity of explanation and consistency of interpretation will follow.
The preferred written
format for defining work expectations and individual performance measures is the position description. Position descriptions
identify work expectations established by ownership and management. A supervisor’s description describes the supervisor’s role
to all, explains what authorities and responsibilities rest with the position, and identifies that ownership supports the position.
A subordinate’s position description defines what an employee is supposed to do. It should explain written work expectations
and measures of performance to the employee as a game plan for success. Position descriptions provide an outline for training,
establish accountability, and eliminate guesswork. Work and work standards are defined and are no longer open for negotiation between
supervisor and subordinate. Put as much into writing as is needed to set clear expectations. Employees need enough information
about their job to perform their responsibilities and tasks without guessing what is expected of them.
PROVIDING EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK
and timely feedback regarding performance or meeting expectations must be provided to the employee through job coaching and daily
feedback by the supervisor, through regular performance evaluations, and by routine reports. If needed, your disciplinary
program can be used to help correct chronic performance or behavioral issues that haven’t been solved using these other methods.
Feedback lets employees know how they are doing. Feedback also identifies what has to be worked on to get back to expected levels
of performance. Whenever possible, feedback should be delivered in a constructive or neutral context so that the receiver gets
the entire message and does not “tune out” when the conversation starts with negatives.
EMPLOYEE TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
Employee orientation and training programs help an employee get off to a good start. These programs reinforce
performance expectations, identify who is responsible for training and provide training opportunities. Additional training
or skills development should be provided whenever the need is identified. The goal is not to find fault but to get and keep
performance at an acceptable level and to prevent or reduce frustration for all.
REWARD ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONTRIBUTION
system should reinforce accountability and reward contribution to the profitability of the business. It must positively reinforce
behavior beneficial to the organization and profitability, yet discourage behavior that is not. Regular compensation pays employees
for expected effort. Incentives should reward employees for exceptional effort, especially as it relates to their impact on increasing
profitability. This tool adds “we” to the supervisor’s vocabulary in their work to ensure employee accountability.
majority of those who work for a living do so within a group setting, which means working with others. The ability to function as
a team member is a critical component of success in most businesses. Failure to follow through on commitments and personal responsibilities
can cause a particular team member to become a problem. An accountability system with incentives motivates employees and helps them
understand that their personal accountability means success for the entire company, and each employee’s own personal accountability
is required for the team and business to succeed and to be profitable.
During implementation of an incentive program, initial employee
reaction to accountability may be mixed. Some may roll up their sleeves, some may turn up their noses, and some may not participate
at all.’ Employees want to know what’s in it for them. Those who ‘roll up their sleeves’ and prove to be accountable and contribute
to generating profits will be recognized and rewarded. Recognition and reward often have a ripple effect on other employees. An accountability
system with incentives will create a culture of motivated employees.
A system of employee accountability starts with expectations
stated in writing, so that they can be clearly understood. Employers should not have to guess what an employee will do and an
employee should not have to guess what is expected of them. The accountability system continues with feedback provided by the supervisor
and supplemented by the business. As necessary the supervisor may have to provide additional clarification of expectations or
training to ensure that they are met. The supervisor uses observation to inspect, reports to detect, and personal development plans
An incentive system reinforces accountability and rewards contribution to the profitability of the business.
Such a process positively reinforces behavior beneficial to the organization and its profitability and discourages behavior that is
not again, compensation pays employees for expected effort. Incentives should reward employees for exceptional effort, especially
as it relates to their impact on increasing profitability.
Both employers and employees benefit from an environment in which the work
force embraces and understands individual accountability. Employers will see the increased productivity that comes with setting deadlines
and being clear about expectations and responsibilities. Employees will take ownership of their jobs, see improved job satisfaction,
experience more success, and can participate in generating additional profits by saving expenses or obtaining more sales. As
employees begin to take more ownership of their jobs and a solid action plan is clear, personal accountability will emerge, lowering
stress, increasing overall productivity, influencing job satisfaction and ultimately propelling the organization to its goals and
increased profit. When employers are committed to an accountability system, change happens not because management mandates it,
but because individuals are energized and motivated to approach their jobs in a new and improved way.