Accountability in Your Business

Bringing clarity and focus to how your team contributes to the success of your practice can enhance overall results and attainment of your business goals.

(A version of this article was first published in Impact Magazine, Feb. 2017.)

Not enough employees in general, and especially in the rehab industry, understand exactly what it is they are responsible for producing. They know their job title, schedule, and may understand some components of what you expect them to deliver. They know they are responsible for taking care of patients or administrative tasks, but they lack the specificity to be able to tell you what the two most important things are in performing their job. For example, the primary responsibilities of a front desk worker might be to (1) schedule patients and (2) collect copays. But if you go to your front desk right now and ask them what their job is, you are likely to get a long list of activities, none of which are necessary for scheduling patients and collecting copays. This lack of clarity inhibits their ability to prioritize and know what is going to be most important to the success of the business and the team.

Bringing razor-sharp focus to every single team member’s deliverables can begin to shift your culture from one of activity to one of the results. If the results- or outcomes-focused culture is important to you, then using objective and measurable goals is a great way to move in that direction. Assigning responsibility for components of these goals is another giant step toward a culture of accountability.

Why accountability?

We tend to pay people based on past performance or based on their level of effort, but is that how you are compensated? As a business owner, you get paid based on results or production. What those specific results are may vary by business or setting, but ultimately patients, customers, clients, employers, and even insurance payers are increasingly looking to measurable results to determine the value you are delivering. If your time, energy, and effort produce results, then they are productive uses of your time and energy. But it is certain that you have seen people expend a great deal of effort without achieving any results. This is not a desirable state for the members of your team.

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Seldom do I see companies that have clear accountabilities assigned to all of their team members. Sometimes a few people, like in sales, know what they are responsible for producing. But other people in other areas are not clear about how their performance is being measured, if at all. And if a team member does not know how their efforts contribute to the overall success of the company, then how are they able to prioritize their time and efforts in order to achieve the best overall results?

Creating clear accountabilities and measurable results for each employee that feed into the bigger picture goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), and thus the overall success of your organization, will allow you, and them, to know exactly how they are performing. You can then tie compensation to results, assign additional responsibilities to those likely to deliver, and minimize conversations around “how hard I worked and therefore deserve a raise.” You will have something objective and definable to point to and direct your team members’ efforts toward activities that will contribute to the greater success of the team.

If you’re a sports fan, you see this frequently. Sport is riddled with statistics. They are used in real-time during games, as well as being the determinants of who gets into the Hall of Fame. My son collects baseball cards. Baseball probably holds the apex in sports as a game of statistics. Presumably, the statistics listed on the back of each baseball card tell you not only how good the individual player was, but also how they contributed to the overall success of the team. And there are different statistics for different positions on a team. Different people are responsible for different outcomes that contribute to the overall success of the team. And when those statistics don’t contribute to the team’s success, we may be measuring the wrong statistics.

This is no different running your company. The only significant difference is that you don’t get a score at the end of each game. You may not get an immediate score, head to head, with your competition, but you can keep score on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. When you monitor your statistics, also known as metrics or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), you know how your business and your team members are performing. Through benchmarking against other companies can help you to know if you are meeting averages, or exceeding or falling below industry standards, I prefer to look at each business individually and set the score targets based on their context, including the owners’ vision and goals.

Making members of your team responsible for delivering and driving each statistic is a form of delegation that can leverage other people’s time and energy in order to allow you to work on your business. This can make your life easier while achieving superior results. And it can help create clarity for each team member and thus improve engagement and retention for the team members who really want to contribute.

A Role Scorecard, basically an abbreviated job description, can help you begin this process of assigning the right number and the right activities to the right people. A very simplified example of one is included below. You can modify this and expand it to encompass all the things that are important to you for each position. Being more comprehensive is desirable, leaving less to chance and interpretation.

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In my company, and those of my clients, we use Role Scorecards in recruiting and hiring processes, as well as during induction, reviews, and to determine performance standards and thus compensation. It removes a great deal of subjectivity from management and allows team members to know exactly where they stand and what expectations are for each role.

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Try creating your starter Role Scorecards for your 2-3 key positions. Share your draft with the people in those positions and ask for their input to make it more comprehensive and easier to follow. By including them, you will not only improve your Role Scorecards, but you may be able to gain better buy-in from them around their roles in your company.

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