Accountability, Goal Setting, and Professional Development. That’s it, very simple to identify and equally important across all professions. Having great first-level managers and supervisors are the most important positions you can have. They have a difficult job in trying to translate the organization’s vision & mission into tangible task the employees can accomplish. Not only that, but they must hold the line of accountability of the employees, support the values of the organization, inspire their people to achieve excellence, and develop and train their replacements. It is a daunting task, so let’s look at how to improve the big three!
Accountability is the foundation a manager operates on. There are tons of articles and research on this topic, but the bottom line is most managers are rated poor at holding their people accountable. Accountability starts at the top! The only way to get better at this is to ensure you are holding people accountable. It will trickle down from there. Make accountability the manager and supervisor’s core responsibility. You must evaluate them on how well they hold people accountable. Teach them when they make mistakes and let them figure things out.
Goals. So often we talk about goals and how important they are, yet we fail to identify them or worse, identify them but make them impossible to achieve or measure. It is not always easy to establish goals. Goals of perfection are a bad idea. Do not use them. Voltaire said, “Perfection is the enemy of good.” I believe what he means is if you spend too much time on perfection you waste resources that could be used elsewhere to move from 99 to 99.1. If they were utilized properly, perhaps you could improve another area from 70 to 90%. See this article about perfection for more reasons why Perfection is Dumb. Being good enough and not expecting perfection will drive your organization to great success.
Professional Development. The goal of this website is to provide professional development for everyone who wishes to pursue it. In your organization, there may be little interest in professional development, but you should make it worthwhile. Outside of producing quality content that is, in itself worthwhile, the leaders of the organization need to tie rewards to attending professional development. It cannot be mandatory but must be highly encouraged. Tying it to performance evaluations, bonuses, and awards will give it the importance it deserves and will begin to change the culture of the organization to where it values it intrinsically.
One thing to note is that all three of these subjects must be worked on simultaneously. Working on them independently in a vacuum will not bring about the results you are looking for. They complement each other and feed off one another. To maximize the effects, they must be considered a single item with three parts.