CHAOS AND CARNAGE – who is responsible for this?

When disaster strikes there’s nothing worse than no-one owning up… Finger pointing, scapegoats and the “well it’s nothing to do with me” responses all too often leave you wanting to shut yourself in the stationery cupboard until your employees go home.

Take a minute to remember the BP Gulf oil rig disaster a few years back. In April 2010, a gas blowout occurred during the cementing of the Deepwater Horizon well. The whole thing ignited, killing 11 people, sinking the rig, and triggering a massive underwater spill that would take months to contain.

Now, chances a disaster in your office may not be quite as catastrophic as an oil rig explosion. However, the BP disaster resulted from a combination of dangerous conditions and numerous poor decisions. Everyone involved blamed each other. No one was held accountable, took responsibility or considered it their job to help avoid such carnage.

The point we are trying to make is that accountability is an essential part of effectively managing people, and avoiding disasters – big or small. Even the smallest of mistakes can carry a lot of weight for your business. And, more importantly, can be avoided by ensuring everyone knows what they are responsible for (saving you from a fair few headaches too).

The best managers are those who hold their employees accountable.

  • Set clear objectives

  • Establish clear expectations

  • Hold firm when expectations aren’t met

Seems obvious, right? You’d be surprised by how many managers skip out the last bit. After all, it’s hard telling an employee that they’re not performing. No-one likes conflict and no-one wants to be the big bad wolf (especially if you actually like the employee).

However, failing to follow through when expectations aren’t met leads to big (deep-rooted) problems in the long run. Mainly because management is a practical, results-driven discipline. Sorry to break this to you but if your team are not getting results, you’re not doing your job.

Of course, there is a delicate balance between accountability and micromanagement. Both methods are designed to get the job done, but are achieved in two drastically different ways.

Micromanagement is when a manager takes over or watches every move of the people under them. The drawbacks of this are fairly well known.

Accountability asks for an immense amount of input from employees. It involves asking employees to come up with the solutions to whatever problem is there and get everyone in the team to understand what and who they’re accountable to.

So how do you avoid micromanaging, and encourage employees to actively engage in their responsibilities? The answer, of course, is structure.

We’ve written about the importance of structure before – particularly in the context of SMEs (give this a read). Implementing a clear structure with defined roles, responsibilities and lines of reporting will help you avoid chaos and carnage. And, as a bonus will increase employee engagement and motivation too (what’s not to love!).

Not only that but as a business owner or manager it’s likely you’ll feel the burden of any disasters… Sleepless nights and the constant thought of “am I responsible for this mess?”. With clearly defined roles and responsibilities you can take some of the pressure off your shoulders. So long as you have built a competent and trustworthy team (through a solid recruitment process!) you will be able to share the load, save yourself from a lot of unnecessary stress, and avoid falling into the trap of micromanaging.

Don’t forget, the team at South Coast HR have always got your back. If you need help organising your business responsibilities, building your team, or sorting out any people problems – so get in touch.