My initial thought was to caption this short write up: “Mapping Employee’s Accountability”. Then, I decided to make the presentation very simple for easy comprehension. I therefore chose the title: “The Valuable Employee.” That is, the team member or associate in the workplace who is always ready to take total ownership of his actions and be accountable not just responsible to himself, his team members and outcomes.
Smart organisations must in a definitive manner, break away from the “comfort zone” silos of doing business. This is definitely not giving us maximum deliverables in these trying times? The way forward is to generate new ideas and fully tap into “ambitious” growth opportunities in order to survive and at the same time, make tangible progress? We must grow market share by delivering better values from products and services. These products and services must be a must have for customers. Patronage must be expanded by attaining more customers, retaining them, engaging them and motivating them to come back and buy more. Our purpose should be driven from a peak performance perspective and we must motivate mastery of our trade because our business is capable of so much more. We can surely steer our organisation to achieve results that are beyond our expectations.
We, because of this new thrust, need an employee (leader and associate) that will conscientiously accept responsibility for his actions in order to accomplish assigned tasks. Not an employee that is intentionally or unintentionally lowering standards, reducing performance, missing deadlines, not cost-conscious and straining valuable relationships.
The employee must be reliable, trustworthy, creative passionate about his role and is always ready to learn. He must be committed, no matter what it takes to achieve expected results. He must stay on course and be resilient in spite of obstacles and occasional setbacks. He must take ownership and accept the consequences of his actions. Zero blame and unproductive arguments must be totally avoided and there must be no room for procrastinations. He must be thoroughly aware that success and failure are fuel for sustainable success.
Today, growth opportunities are getting further down the tunnel and we must find them no matter what it takes. The valuable employee must therefore, have a deep understanding of the corporate strategy and business goals. He must know how to mine insights from relevant and regular research and must be an honest communicator of these insights. He must upgrade his knowledge always, and be smart enough to be a check when, occasionally, colleagues miss the mark. His closeness to customers, no matter his function, must give him the enablement to discover useful ideas, even when they are outside the boss’s instructions.
He must be a veritable instrument in working honestly in order to prevent poor interaction with other units and departments. The Harvard Business School discovered recently, that interactions across boundaries in organisations, are negatively affecting overall performance. Their research revealed that “two people who are in the same strategic business unit (SBU), function and office often interact about one thousand times more frequently than two people in the organisation who are in different business units, functions and offices, whereas the various units must add value to themselves.”
Dr. John Izzo, a human psychologist, in his opinion on the accountable employee, said that “One hundred per cent commitment to responsibility with no excuse drives commitment.” He pointed out that “the employee must be positive, always radiate enthusiasm and optimistic. He should be telling himself always about what he can do to execute tasks efficiently and effectively. He should be collaborative, listen to feedbacks, learn and always speak up constructively instead of staying silent, complaining and murmuring.”
Simon Sinek, another expert, also pointed out that the most valuable thing about the accountable employee is trust and the readiness “to help the colleague next to him.” He said you should be reliable by building trust with your colleagues. He noted that “you are not good enough in everything and you cannot therefore do it alone.”
Another essential characteristic of the accountable employee is adaptability. Adaptability, according to an evolutionary psychologist, is the most important personality trait: “He must have the capacity to adaptably respond to changes and uncertainties whether expected or unexpected.” The valuable employee must learn to adjust his thoughts, emotions, behaviours, as quickly and effectively as possible. He must be flexible, think creatively with new information, approach problems from multiple perspectives and be ready to navigate new challenges. Cognitive flexibility is very essential and it goes along with cognitive processes which include control over impulses, smarts and faster responses as well as agility. The accountable employee must also understand and appreciate the dynamic nature of structures and crucial scenarios in workplaces.
A new addition to the vocabulary of effectiveness by individual employee is “the flow”. It is the state when the brain gets turned on and you “flow for optimal performance”. You feel your best and you are indeed at your best with tremendous focus, complete concentration, rapt attention and alertness. The complete tool kit of the employee is triggered and there is absolute concentration.
Catherine Janssen defined employee-accountability as “taking responsibility, acting responsibly and feeling responsible for results”. She said the employee must add specific value to the company’s goals “by doing the right thing and doing it right”.
She advised against the present fixation on numbers and targets “without the accompanying context”. “We must always be focused on the why, the how and what we have been asked to do”, she added.
Janssen, who plies her trade at the Silicon Valley, pointed out that the make-up of the accountability model must include: “authenticity, professionalism, passion, eagerness, curiosity, empathy, acceptance and the energy to go for the much-needed accomplishments.”
Accountability needs “one single key ingredient”. Employees (both leaders and associates) have the keys and the locks. The valuable employee must just have to do the work. This is the key to success. It is impossible for you to be lazy and at the same time successful. You must achieve the very essential corporate goals with strong work ethics. You must work hard constantly and consistently for consistent growth and have discipline “as the huge one”. Be willing to sacrifice now, so that you can enjoy the results. Business opportunities are moving and evolving, you therefore have meaningful tasks to work at. Your mindset must be for consistent learning in order to grow output. Always apply the new things learnt. There is a popular saying that “the more you learn, the more you earn”. You must grow your ability to listen because “you cannot listen enough”. Adapt new opportunities from new knowledge and relevant technology. You need feedbacks and criticisms to improve yourself. Be open to listen, humble enough to admit failures and strong enough to follow your gut instincts.
Let me conclude with the opinions of William Seidman and Richard Grbavac in their book: “The Star Factor: Inspire the level of greatness in all”. The authors said performance stories must revolve around: stellar performance, transforming knowledge into actionable steps; internalising positive attitudes and behaviours, bringing dynamic changes into the organisation, unlocking wisdom, conducting wisdom discovery workshops, presenting findings in a way colleagues will want to listen and learn, training “coaches” to guide conversion of knowledge into applications, reinforcing the learnings with strategic group discussions and turning isolated employees into influential team members that tangibly contribute in building the culture of greatness, and achieving extraordinary tangible as well as intangible results.
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