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5 steps to an employee accountability plan that really works

Managing Employees

9 min read

As an entrepreneur, nothing’s more frustrating than inconsistent results. High revenue one month might be followed by low revenue the next without any clear indicators to tell you why. If every peak you hit is followed by a dramatic drop, the resources you spend climbing to the next peak cancel out the wins. It can be a real stressor on the business.

When facing rollercoaster results, your first instinct may be to place blame on your employees, to see this as an accountability issue. But at the root of it, consistency is about goal-setting and employee buy-in.

If you’ve been struggling with inconsistent results, your first step is to create a plan for consistency and nurture a culture of accountability that will help you maintain it. Here’s how.

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How to create a culture of accountability

1. Get clear on the companywide results you want to achieve

You can’t expect accountability without clarity. Think about it: How can you hold your team accountable for a result if they—and you—don’t have a clear scope on that result? 

Before you put expectations in place for your employees, define the results you want and clarify your expectations for the company as a whole—and be specific. If you start the year with a goal of generating $120,000 in annual revenue, what’s the timeline for that: $30,000 per quarter? $10,000 per month? 

As you’re clarifying your desired results, understand that, while consistency is the goal, variables are normal. Some may be predictable, like seasonality. Others, like inflation and other economic changes, will be harder to anticipate. But knowing what results to aim for month by month will make it easier to adjust quickly when needed.

2. Identify position-specific results

Once you’ve established the results you want to see for the company, the next step is to determine what results you expect from each position. How many products or services need to be sold each month, and how does that break down across your sales team? What do your production numbers need to be to keep fulfillment on track?

Every position at your company is part of the greater whole. When trying to determine how to keep your team accountable, decide what needs to happen on a monthly and quarterly basis to make the results you want possible.

writing position agreements

3. Incentivize your desired results

You may already have a system in place for rewarding performance. What you may not realize is that incentivizing the wrong things can ultimately harm the company.

Here’s an example: If you offer a generous bonus to salespeople who hit a certain monthly target, they may push themselves hard to earn the bonus one month, then decide they can afford to coast without a bonus for the next few months. The employee’s needs are met, but the company’s may not be.

A more effective bonus structure might be to offer a smaller bonus for a monthly target met, followed by another bonus if the target is met each month of the quarter.

Apply this same thinking to non-sales positions too. Look at how you’re handling merit-based salary increases. Is one outstanding project enough to earn someone a hefty raise? Or are you setting monthly expectations and rewarding the type of consistent performance that will get the company closer to its overall goal?

4. Communicate company and position-specific goals

Knowing what results you and your individual team members are working toward will mean nothing if you don’t communicate the desired results to everyone involved in achieving them—and communicating the value of consistency along the way.

After defining the goals you're aiming for, help your team define theirs. They likely believe that success means creating the best possible results—that’s a normal belief. But true accountability means measuring consistent results instead of simply bringing the best results some of the time. How can you start building a culture where consistency is more highly valued than the occasional record-breaking month?

5. Get employee buy-in

Before you can hold your team accountable—and more importantly, before they can hold themselves accountable—they need to know the results they’re expected to deliver and what systems and tools they have at their disposal. They need to have the freedom to communicate the things they’ll need from you or their manager to make the desired results achievable.

It’s impossible to truly hold someone accountable for something they never agreed to do. So if you really want to achieve consistent positive outcomes, you need buy-in from employees. You can do this by creating a results agreement for each position that walks employees through exactly what’s expected of them. Since this agreement is results-based, it’s far more than just a task list. A list of to-dos is easy to check off without concern for the end result. But when the employee knows why they’re completing certain tasks, they’ll be empowered to adapt the to-do list when it’s not bringing the expected results.

If you need a model for designing your agreements, start with our free template. Then have the employee sign off to show they understand expectations, giving them the space to raise concerns and improve on the proposed processes.

Employee accountability doesn’t happen overnight. But understanding and communicating the results you want to see will help you create the agreements your team needs to understand what’s expected of them and the systems that can help them get there. We’re here to help—schedule a free session with an EMyth Coach for support establishing goals and developing an accountability plan that works for your team and your business.

EMyth Team

Written by EMyth Team

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