We want excellence. We want people to be performing at their very best. But how do we get them there?
There is a hard wiring way to hold employees accountable. That usually involves performance plans, annual reviews, and other mechanisms that seldom align themselves toward attaining real results. Most people tie a negative connotation/emotion to performance plans and thus accountability because of the way they are used as crowbars for forcing people to do what is expected.
That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be accountability. But there’s a soft wiring way to to do that. What is soft wiring for excellence? It’s about inspiring people to perform better today than yesterday, and better tomorrow than today. Aristotle stated: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Modeling excellence, sharing stories of success, walking in the shoes of your employees, teaching and recognizing performance are all great ways to help people achieve excellence through soft wiring. But you also need some way to identify whether you’re doing better today than yesterday. And you need some baseline to determine what you’re going to do today so that you’re better tomorrow than you are right now.
The best approach is for employees and individual teams throughout the organization to identify simple measures quantitatively and/or qualitatively that they can use to improve performance each and every day. What gets measured gets improved. There are often lots of measures in place in the organization, but few of those measurements are in the hands of the front line in such a way that they can create any tangible consequence toward improvement. Ideal is to have teams through their own efforts to identify those things they can do to improve. Those goals should be inclusive of important/non urgent actions they will take, not just a focus on matters that are urgent. Let them row, let them figure out the best way to row, and let them see the results of that rowing through their own measures.
Every day you must soft wire for accountability. It will create results. It will lead to excellence.