Encouraging Culture Through Accountability and Action
By now we’re likely all familiar with the Peter Drucker quote, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”—and for good reason. Companies can have all the strategy in the world, but unless they successfully cultivate the culture in the direction they want to go, there will be innumerable stumbling points along the way.
Still, when C-Suite executives sit down to discuss culture—and the best ways to go about shaping it—there’s often conversations around the same few keys: transparency, leading by example and communication. Don’t get me wrong—these are as vital to a healthy workplace culture—but what about the art of holding employees accountable?
Through her time at various companies Nancy Wall, VP/GM at Graham Packaging, has seen how cultures have been impacted by the decisions and either action or lack thereof of leadership teams. In her experience, holding employees accountable for their responsibilities and goals helps them both personally and professionally in the long run.
“You have to be clear with the expectations you have for your employees—if something is within their job assignment clearly communicate the expectation but follow through with proper feedback. As an example, employees sometimes avoid their call reports; explain to them why this is a crucial aspect for both their job security and the continued education of the company. While these reports are expected of them, they don’t just simply disappear into a black hole once they’re turned in; we use them to learn best practices for everyone involved going forward.”
And for Wall accountability goes both ways, “I communicate my expectations of employees—and specifically the pillars of culture I strive for on a daily basis. I let them know from the beginning that this is what I expect of them, but also what they should expect of me and if they ever find me not operating within these guidelines to bring it to my attention.”
Accountability stems from their commitment to the company as a whole. When you can get people to buy into the bigger picture, they often see the value in their actions. “Make it personal for them to get on board. I like to explain to my employees that the work we do every day helps us to stay relevant in the eyes of our customers—and without that the entire company is at risk. One person isn’t going to solve problems on their own but together as a team we can absolutely get the job done.”
Additionally, it’s important to encourage employees to grow in ways they may not have thought possible previously. “Ask a lot of questions and challenge your team members to push their way of thinking. My team will absolutely say that the goals we have as a company and for themselves individually are lofty—but it’s my job to help them see their potential.”
Give Them the Tools
Wall explains that her role requires more than just setting the bar high for her team, however, “An employee once said that they had previously felt the set expectations and goals were unfair but when they achieved them they saw that they had been setting the bar too low for themselves all along. If I’m going to set big goals for my team, then I’m absolutely going to give them the tools, training and guidance to accomplish them as well.”
Kevin Bugielski is the Marketing Manager for Victory Lap, a purpose-driven startup changing the sales game. Avid Snapchatter, SoulCycle lover, newfound runner, but ultimately, a foodie.