Chip Royce, Flywheel Advisors – September 24, 2022
A strong correlation exists between a company’s performance and how it chooses to ‘execute,’ a framework for creating its strategy and delivering results. A key component of execution is the concept of accountability, which cannot exist without team members’ willingness to be transparent and engage in collaborative efforts, which is especially important now that remote work is becoming the norm.
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“Reflections of business executives in a mirror”
The culture you create within your company profoundly influences its performance.
Here at Flywheel Advisors, we see a direct correlation between company performance and its culture. We pay special attention to how teams ‘execute’ and if there is a consistent methodology across the organization.
Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
In their influential 2002 book “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” former Honeywell CEO Larry Bossidy and Stanford Professor Ram Charan define execution as “the people, strategy, and operating plan to get things done on time.” Bossidy & Charam detail their keys to success; hiring and developing people, aligning them through a well-thought-out strategy, and implementing an operational structure for communication, organization, and reporting to see their efforts through to the intended results.
They describe not only the process of execution but also the importance of intangibles. One of the essential intangibles is integrity. Under no circumstances can everything be done perfectly, but all team members must be held accountable.
How Do You Create Accountability Within Your Organization?
Some will build dashboards to track results. Others will point to organizational alignment and planning.
We at Flywheel Advisors believe that accountability derives from the expectation that all team members, starting with C-Suite, down to the entry-level employee, transparently conduct themselves and collaborate with their co-workers when appropriate.
Transparency means everyone on your team must strive to be honest and open in all interactions. Not just when asked but proactively providing status and information about potential risks allowing others to react appropriately.
Collaboration, similar to cooperation, acknowledges that a company has shared goals, most activities or departments have interdependencies, and team members must proactively work together to meet company objectives.
Not All Companies Adopt These Principles of Transparency and Collaboration
For instance, if teams are not transparent and hide or suppress critical metrics, how can the organization measure performance or identify issues? In many companies, silos are prevalent. Marketing teams may not think of the downstream impacts of product design on internal partners, such as shipping and fulfillment. The lack of collaboration during those phases can create issues, unnecessary costs, and resource drains that otherwise could be allocated to other improvement initiatives.
How Do I Implement a More Transparent and Collaborative Culture At My Company?
Changing to a more collaborative and transparent culture starts at the top of an existing organization. It requires your top leaders to lead by example, be willing to provide more visibility into metrics and operations and change how meetings are handled, and insist on new ways of group interactions across the company. This will take time and possibly cause disruption and possibly defections of employees, managers, and even senior leaders who don’t subscribe to higher visibility and accountability.
It is undoubtedly much easier for a new company to incorporate these characteristics into its culture. Not only do your leaders need to reflect this in your culture, but you can also build this into your hiring processes (also known as “ticket to entry”). Building a checklist of criteria used during the interview process can ensure that hiring managers are accountable for bringing in employees that subscribe to the company’s core values.
Your company’s need for transparency and collaboration may not resonate with your management style. However, in the post-pandemic world and remote work becoming more prevalent, companies will lose visibility into employee, team, and unit operations and performance. To the cynic, at minimum, encouraging new, open ways of communicating and working together to fill the voids left by informal workplace interactions will help hedge against downside risks. For the optimist, as documented by Bossidy and Charam, you can enable your team to be genuinely high-performing by encouraging accountability through a more transparent and collaborative culture.