Candor & Accountability - Dynamic Engagement Duo

Candor & Accountability: Dynamic Duo for Employee Engagement

Hopefully you’ve been in an organization…maybe right now…where you felt as though you were on the precipice of something exciting. Maybe you can tell by an intangible buzz or rhythm to how things get done on a daily basis…all the pieces have finally fallen into place and work is productive, a fine-tuned machine. If you’ve ever read Jim Collins’ Good to Great then you might consider this the “Flywheel Effect” in which, through diligent effort and discipline, an organization may turn the arduous task of spinning a giant, heavy flywheel into a task that later requires less effort simply thanks to the momentum that was gained by pushing the wheel steadily from the start. I guess you could call it the “snowball effect,” too.

This spirit of teamwork and focused discipline doesn’t happen by accident, but rather through successful employee engagement. I could probably brainstorm ten to fifteen different core attributes that tend to lead to this coveted internal synergy, but I’d rather just focus on two in this blog. Two things that organizations should do, and conversely that employees should do in return, to start moving that wheel.

Candor is King

For those that know me well, they know that I lovingly embrace the virtue of candor. While I’ve always been wired this way, it wasn’t until I read Winning by Jack Welch a handful of years ago that I really understood how an organization could use frankness as a competitive advantage…simply by creating a culture that understands it as an expectation. Now there’s a fine line that can sometimes be drawn between being direct and being too abrasive, so care should be taken in crafting the appropriate delivery of information to employees.

Nevertheless, for an organization that is at least somewhat transparent and doesn’t try to placate its employees with vague, general statements, it is highly likely that its efforts will be rewarded by employees who appreciate being respected and trusted to handle the truth. I mentioned setting expectations earlier…for this type of culture to work it is imperative that individuals understand into what they are getting themselves. An environment of candor works when you are candid in the moment, as well as candid about the company’s expectations of its teammates and operations.

Accountability…Is It Really That Hard?

My niece is a junior at Indiana University, and will be doing her first internship this summer…her first taste of the real working world. Recently, she and I were chatting and, in one of my more forthright moments (no surprise), I decided to lay some advice on her and indicate that all she really needed to do to be more successful than many others in the working world was to just follow through. Period.

How often do others (hopefully not you, too) say they will have this report to you by Thursday, or that they’ll text you about getting together for lunch, or that they’ll get back to their co-workers about that research by next week at the latest…only to never actually do what they promised? I get that things happen and circumstances change…so what always impresses me is when one follows up prior to the deadline to acknowledge that he realizes an item was due by tomorrow, but that XYZ happened and now the new deliverable date will need to be moved to next week. That’s okay, too…because he communicated the change to me instead of just allowing the deadline to come and go without saying a peep.

Does your company follow through with the little promises it makes (maybe without realizing it) regularly? More importantly, is it up front with employees when something can’t happen as originally planned…including the reasons why? That’s a true measure of showing your employees they matter and deserve to have an explanation for why you may have fallen short on your part.

Accountability makes your reputation, and instills trust in your organization. What other core principles does your organization practice to further engage employees?
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