Can Increasing Accountability Reduce the Need to Micro-Manage Your Team?

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Not very many people want to micromanage and even fewer want to be micromanaged. But what do you do if you feel like you have to keep your fingers on the pulse of what the majority of your team members are doing in order to keep them moving in the right direction?

How can you make sure that you’re going to hit your goals if you’re not sure if your team is actually going to do the work they need to do on time and to the standards that you need to meet?

For a moment, I’d like you to consider that the answer is through increased accountability.

However, we want to decrease micromanagement, so let’s look at a way to increase accountability while reducing the amount of time you need to spend to hold your team accountable.

When I was working with Intel Corporation, one of the things that I learned through experience was that unclear roles and responsibilities we’re one of the primary drivers behind business goals not being met and the inevitable finger-pointing and micro-management that follows.

This is one of those areas that gets overlooked because both management and the employees assume that they know what their roles are and what their responsibilities are, but like most assumptions, the actual results often depict a very different story.

How to Increase Accountability

The vast majority of employees will do the best that they can given the resources they have (provided that they feel valued and appreciated).

However, if there is a lack of clarity about what they need to do, what they’re responsible for, and how they’re going to be rewarded or punished, what you essentially end up with, is a situation where everyone is doing what they think they should be doing regardless of whether or not that’s actually what they should be working on.

One of the fastest ways that you can increase productivity and make sure that your employees are focused on the right tasks and goals is to very clearly define their roles and responsibilities within the organization.

This has the added side benefit of illuminating situations in which a team member may not how to do something for which they are responsible, giving you the opportunity to make sure they receive the training they require.

Once they are clear about the role which they’re playing, it’s important to define what they’re responsible for and communicate that not only to them but also to the rest of the team. This can greatly reduce finger-pointing and blame if a project is behind schedule.

In some cases, especially with high-achievers who have a tendency to take on everything that’s put in front of them, you may want to define what they’re not responsible for so they can focus all of their attention and energy on the areas you need them to focus on.

How to Communicate Roles & Responsibilities

One way to do this is to create a simple document for diagram that outlines each key team member, The role that they are filling, and a list of what they’re responsible for on a high-level. By sharing this document with each member of your team, determining who to talk to when something needs to be done or when an issue comes up is straightforward.

This has the added benefit of reducing the workload on some of your best team members. You know who those people are. They’re the ones who will take care of any issues no matter what happens, even if they have to stay at work all night we’re take their work home with them. The reason why we want to reduce the workload on your best team members is because of the fact that we want to and grow them within the company which can be hard to do if they’re under crushing workload or because everyone else on the team knows that they can dump things in that person’s lap because he or she will get it done.

Once everyone knows what role they’re playing and what they’re responsible for, the next status to manage their performance against those responsibilities.

How to Improve Performance Management (With Less Effort)

If you’re an employee working in an average company, there’s a lot of ambiguity about how well you’re performing and how you’re going to do at your next review.

Naturally, this is less than ideal, because we want every member of the team to know whether the whether not they’re on track and to be able to course correct as needed, preferably with as little input as necessary from their manager.

That sounds great in theory, but how do we actually make it happen?

If you’ve done your planning properly and you know what your goals are for the quarter, month, or week, and you’ve clearly defined who is responsible for each component of those goals, the next step is to define an indicator which you and the employee can use to determine whether or not they are on track or off course.

Creating Individual-Level KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

Rather than only considering key performance indicators for the entire organization or individual business units, we want to go a step further and chunk down those indicators to an individual level, creating a key performance indicator for each individual in the organization which will tell them whether or not they are ahead or behind of The criteria against which they’re going to be evaluated at their upcoming review.

The shorter we can make the feedback loop, the better.

Imagine for a moment that you’re driving down the road in a car. You know whether or not you are driving in accordance with the expectations based on whether or not you’re crossing over the lines painted on either side of your car. At the same time, you can watch the posted speed limit signs to know whether not you were exceeding we’re driving too slow relative to the velocity at which you’re expected to drive. The lines combined with your speedometer and the speed limit signs create a very short feedback loop allowing you to course correct as needed.

Avoid the temptation to create individual KPIs that don’t update frequently by breaking down the indicator down. For example, a project might take four months to complete, but by breaking it down into tasks, you can measure how many tasks are done per day or per week and forecast whether or not the overall project is ahead or behind schedule.

Short-Feedback Loops Make It Easier to Stay On Track

Now, I’m wondering if you can remember a time when you got in the car and started driving and then arrive at your destination without even remembering a portion of the trip. The fact is, with short feedback loops, were able to arrive at the destination whether or not we are highly focused on the task at hand.

In conclusion, if you want to improve the performance of your team, And reduce the amount of time that you need to spend managing them, then I’d encourage you to take an objective view of your company and talk to some of the key employees to see whether or not they are crystal clear on their roles, their responsibilities, and their personal key performance indicators against which they’re going to be evaluated.

By ensuring everyone on your team knows what they need to do, what they’re responsible for, and what they’re going to be evaluated against, you’ll find that your team needs far less micromanagement, which in turn will free up your time to work on the business instead of in the business.

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Jason Ayers

My mission is simple - to transform the lives of business owners who have built a job for themselves instead of a wildly successful cash-producing asset. Your business should be your servant and not your master - an economic engine that fuels your lifestyle and your legacy. If you're ready for a change, I invite you to a conversation to discover how you can transform your business and your results.