17 Oct

Be accountable

Moliere said that, It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable. This really resonated with me as I’ve been reflecting for the past couple of days on accountability, and how it can positively or negatively influence your business.

What does that it actually mean to be accountable and what does being accountable look like in today’s business world?

People’s definitions of what accountability is will vary, depending on who they are and where their focuses lie. I have a fairly “old-fashioned” view of personal accountability. When I look at doing business with someone I look at how accountable they are to themselves, their potential and existing customers, and their own businesses. It’s not necessarily the big things that I always look at, but its the small things that matter sometimes.

Accountability rule #1:  Commit to what you say you will do –  So many people are so busy being busy, that one of the first things to fall off the accountability wagon is the ability to follow through on tasks. Remember that your business, which includes you, is constantly on stage and in the public arena for all to see. Your actions or lack of actions show your customers and potential customers how you operate. In order to send the right message such as “Im dependable and not a flake” and to build the right reputation, focus on being accountable for the small things in your business. Answer your emails, follow up on enquiries, return phone calls and arrive at meetings on time. Honestly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that! This doesn’t just show that you are accountable and dependable but it also shows respect and how serious you are about your business.

Accountability rule #2: Accept the consequences for your actions –  When you make an excuse for not completing a task you need to accept the consequences, big or small. Making excuses doesn’t miraculously remove the consequence, your accountability, or the inconvenience for the other party. Therefore if you cannot deliver on a project, don’t just arrive with an excuse and think you are off the hook. Be accountable and be the first person to offer a solution.

In the business world, your customer doesn’t really care about your issues. They don’t want to hear your excuses. They just want their product or service delivered to them at the right time at the right price and in the right condition.

Accountability rule #3: Never pass blame  – This can be a tricky one, especially when someone else has really stuffed up. But passing blame and shining the spot light on someone else’s imperfections makes you look like an amateur. This is where you should bite your tongue and move on. Rise above the situation and focus on solutions instead of excuses, sob stories and drama. Perhaps there is a need to build some safety nets in your business?

Accountability rule #4: Be honest – So the paw-paw has hit the fan, or you are unable to deliver on a project. Drop the ego and be honest about what’s going on. Getting into the habit of making excuses, dodging irate customer calls and passing blame doesn’t serve you and definitely doesn’t boost your reputation with your customers.

Most people in business have the best of intentions when starting out, so don’t let a lack of accountability, responsibility or ownership ruin your chances of building a strong and successful business. Be accountable.

02 Mar

Your Business Cannot Run on Auto-Pilot

The other day I was sitting in a cafe, enjoying a cup of tea and finishing off some work. And watching the staff at work. Well, not quite.

The female server had decided it would be a good idea to fix up her appearance. So she had laid out her make up and hair equipment on the serving counter and proceeded to, with the assistance of the stainless steel coffee machine as her make-shift mirror, apply eyeliner, blush and a few other bits and pieces. Once all the brushes and paraphernalia were packed away she then started on her hair. While she was doing this she was chatting rather loudly to a fellow server behind the counter, oblivious to the world.

As I watched this play out in front of me, I looked around the cafe. Some of the tables were dirty. The chairs were not placed neatly and there was rubbish lying on the floors.

What’s wrong with this picture?

As I sat there wondering if there were any makeup products in my tea, I wondered how many other businesses are run like this? The obvious lack of self-awareness and self-management on behalf of the employees, and a lack of management, controls, procedures and systems. I wondered if this cafe would ever be as successful as it could be.

If you have your own business then don’t ever believe it can run successfully on auto-pilot. Why would you invest in a business and then not be involved?

Most people are in business to make money, and the customer/client is an important part of this financial success. Here are a few things to think about:

  1. If you are not able to be in the business everyday, then who is taking care of it? Who is looking after the customers/clients? Do you have a responsible manager in charge?
    1. Is this manager aware of the business standards and their position’s roles and responsibilities?
    2. How will you measure their performance?
  2. Are your team members aware of their roles, responsibilities and the business goals?
  3. Do you have a disciplinary code of conduct? What you can and cannot do in the business?
  4. When will you be checking in on the business? How would this be carried out?
  5. What external resources can you use to measure the businesse’s performance?
  6. Do you have an employee induction programme and training programme?
  7. Do you interview and hire your employees to fit your business culture?

To stay on track, meet and exceed your customers expectations and to be successful you need to include the correct oversight in your business.