Most of us struggle with accountability

You know you hate it.

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Most of us struggle with accountabilityWe all struggle with accountability. We do not want to be held accountable because we know when we could have done better and fell short. We do not want to hold others accountable because we want to avoid the potential conflict that may arise from differing views of performance.

Even for a one-man-army business, creating systems of accountability – for ourselves and others – will accelerate your success.

Here is a quick process create an accountability system:

Define what “winning” looks like. This moves beyond the standard job description. Each person should know what they are expected to contribute and how they will know if they are doing it well. Don’t negotiate on these. Either they win or they don’t.

Set times. How efficiently do you expect your team members to complete it?

Have consequences and awards for winning. Communicate this before they begin.  Consequences should be enough to hurt while rewards should be enough to motivate.

Track everything. You can’t know if it is being done and make course corrections if there is no method of tracking.

Be bold, but caring. With the exception of just mean people, nobody likes confrontation. We will often tolerate poor performance until we reach a boiling point. Then we blow up; making the problem worse. By using the tracking above, you can frequently let them know when they are failing. Sit with them frequently enough that they can make course corrections. This is the kind way to keep them accountable.

If you need to accelerate your success, get some additional accountability in your business; start a mastermind or get a coach.

lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading Yourself

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Often we talk of leadership as a way to take a group or team from its current state to a better one. What we often fail to recognize is our personal success depends on our ability to lead ourselves.


It is the human condition to desire improvement. At a fundamental level, we all want to reduce pain and increase joy. The concept is rather simple: “Personal leadership is having the strength of character to take your personal performance from where you are to a better one.”

lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading yourself is not much different than leading others. It requires defining your direction and plan and then creating systems and accountability checks to keep you on track.


I have found that one of the biggest ways you may be derailing your personal leadership is your lack of routine and regimen.  Often as an entrepreneur, you are wanting the freedom to determine your own destiny, but then that same desire for freedom is sabotaging your success. You want to follow your gut and do what feels right without depending on what has worked well so far. You abandon what works for what feels right.


So my challenge to you today is to develop your regimen and then hold yourself to it. From the way you start your day, make sales, deliver value, etc.


If you want to try something new, do it as an experiment against what is working – not a complete abandon of your regime.


By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Seeking excellenceI have recently been listening to an audio version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I am only half through with this massive book, but realize the common theme: the conflict between those that seek excellence through achievement and those that wish to gain power through manipulating regulation and taxation in the name of “the greater good.”


It has put my mind to thinking about excellence and high productivity.


Being human, we don’t always produce the results in as excellent a way as we would like. I recently had a challenge where my efforts did not produce the results I had planned. As I reviewed what went wrong, I found five basic things that are common in most failures:


  1. Incorrect assumptions
  2. Impatience with planning
  3. Poor follow-through
  4. Communication break-down
  5. Just plain laziness

It is a frustrating and demoralizing moment when you realize that you have run into a brick wall – a wall you placed there.


So how to avoid it? Get help. Have someone look over your shoulder. They can often  provide you feedback and point out your oversights.

Teaching Systems

By | Accountability, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

One of my first potential clients several years ago mentioned that she and her husband were considering hiring an employee and might need me. I had a hard time getting in touch with them for a month. When I finally had a chance to speak with her, she let me know they had already hired someone and fired them. “I’m never hiring anyone again,” she informed me.


Job TrainingAs I dug deeper, I discovered a few key elements that she missed in the hiring and training process. She told me that this employee had mishandled invoicing and collecting payment (in a rather suspicious nature), was chronically late for service calls and didn’t follow through well with clean-up and other key follow-through items.


I know I beat this drum often. Without a doubt, it boiled down to systems and the system to train a new employee to follow the systems.


  1. The business owner had not verified the quality of the employee’s work. The work they were performing was very technical. Because the employee had several years of experience in the field, the owner had assumed the employee would do well. A ride-along in the interview process and an expectation for the new employee to shadow in the beginning would have saved them time and money.
  2. They did not develop a clear system that created double-checks and accountability in how invoicing and payments were to be handled. They expected the employee to get them the payments “when he could” since he would sometimes be on a service call until late into the evening. There were too many opportunities to lose payments or simply “borrow” some of it for a beer on his way home.
  3. The owner had not developed any level of clear “service standard.” When an employee has not been given clear expectations and no process to be held accountable to them, they create their own standards.  


In order to create an incredible experience for your customers, consistency in your systems coupled with a system for training and a system of accountability will create an incredible operation and value for your customers. Ultimately this creates value for you when its time to leverage and sell your business.

business budgeting

On Paper, On Purpose

By | Accountability, Accounting, Cost Controls, Finance | No Comments

business budgetingIn many organizations, one of the most hated seasons is budget season. Your past performance and ability to stay within projections are carefully analyzed. You are also responsible for developing every detail of your budget for the next year and justifying that amount. Often you are not just justifying your budget to your own boss, but also justifying your amounts to his boss or even a panel or board.


Why do good organizations focus on budgets so heavily? There are some basic principles at work here that everyone, big or small, needs to take into consideration:


  1. Spending decisions are easier to make when you have decided in advance when you have the time to work through the logic of how to run the business without the emotional pressures.
  2. A budgets is really a goal. Knowing what you expect from your business in terms of sales, revenue and expenses helps you to focus on the activities that are going to make your business the most successful.
  3. The difference between a goal and implementation sometimes is accountability. By continually comparing your performance to your budget, you can hold yourself accountable and keep motivated.
  4. Budgets can also be a communication tool to your employees. By laying out the expectations of the business in terms of black and white numbers, your team can better understand what you expect of them.

Often managers don’t use the budget tools they are given wisely and end up losing their department a great deal of money. Business owners make the same mistake.


Dave Ramsey says that every dollar should be put down on paper, on purpose every month. Just knowing your budget numbers for each month and not walking blindly will make a large impact in your success.


You have to know where you stand before you can know the direction to take.


Know your sales least common denominator

Break Down Your Customer Numbers

By | Accountability, Accounting, Cost Controls, Finance, Marketing, Strategic Planning | No Comments

Walgreens over the last few decades has become the most prominant drug store in the United States. When I was growing up, Rite-Aid and Eckerd pharmacies where the top two “corner pharmacy” giants. Jim Collins, in “Good to Great,” details how Walgreens went from a struggling family-run corporation to a national brand.


Know your sales least common denominatorOne of the key components that Walgreens focused on for their growth was their per-customer sales. This is a simple number that averages a store’s receipts per customer. Everything including the location, store layout, sales, and product positioning is sculpted towards increasing their sales-per-customer numbers.


It is critically important to know your “least common denominator.” For a primary care medical practice you would use charges and collections per visit whereas a surgical practice would use charges and collections per surgery because of what insurance calls global fees that cover all follow-up visits. Every business should know it’s least common denominator to drive business.


When you look at your ratios from your your P&L and Cash Flow statements, you take a 30,000 ft view. By looking at your least common denominator you can begin realizing sales and cost-savings that you are missing on a macro level.

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Positive Employee Turnover Because of Great Leadership

Postive Team Turnover

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Positive Employee Turnover Because of Great LeadershipI’ve talked quite a bit over the last few weeks about how bad hires happen and how to avoid them. I’ve also discussed what to do when you have a rotten employee.


However, not all turnover is bad turnover. Here are some positive turnover situations:


  • Self Promotion – What a great moment for a leader when he sees that a team member has learned and grown so much, that they are ready to take on a better position outside your organization!
  • Dream Launch – Similar to the self-promotion above, the team member has been building up to launch their own business and wants to continue the business relationship and not as a competitor.
  • Promotion Within – A team member is ready to take on a leadership role within your organization.
  • Life – Sometimes an employee leaves us because their life changes: a family move, parenthood, marriage, volunteer work, etc.

The challenge is to celebrate with them and don’t rain on their parade because you are inconvenienced by their growth. Unless their departure requires an immediate change, a team member leaving your ranks is glad to help you select and train their replacement.


The hardest part, though, is setting the expectations for the new team member coming in. Most frequently, the new hire will need some time to get ramped up – especially if the person leaving had been there for a few years. Give them the necessary training and a step-by-step expectation to get up to speed.


Happy Hiring!


No Silver Bullets

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments

no silver bulletThere is something in the business building and advising industry that many coaches, consultants, and gurus know. It’s a dirty little secret that keeps many clients and “followers” constantly on the hook for more.


I have been victim to it and I am sure some of you have, too. It’s all because of one tendency many of us have. We all tend to seek education  – expanding our knowledge of the world or techniques that will move us forward.


Education and developing your abilities is great and very important. However, few actually implement. Of those that implement, fewer implement well.


Here are the biggest trip-ups I see and what business leaders tell themselves:

  • Silver Bullet“There has to be a secret out there. If I can find the one trick that is going to transform my business, my life will improve dramatically.”
  • Strategy of the Week“Hey! There’s something I haven’t tried yet. I think I will give it a shot. All the other things I have going on can wait.”
  • Failure to Launch“I want it to be just right before I put it out there.”
  • Overwhelm“I have so many ideas, I can’t seem to decide which one to do.”


Now since I have diagnosed the problem, here are the remedies:

  • No Silver Bullets – There are as many paths to success as there are definitions of success. The key is measured implementation of one sound strategy.
  • Follow Through – Constantly changing tactics and strategies is going to get us no where but with a shop full of half-completed projects. Pick one and stick with it until it is operating on auto-pilot
  • Just Put It Out There – A friend of mine told me recently that “version one is better than version none.
  • Get Organized – Most people who talk about having too many ideas never write them down and therefore cannot prioritize them. Keep a notebook of ideas handy and write down anything you come up with. When putting together an annual plan, prioritize them and pick only the ones you can implement well.


Much of my time as a coach is not spent in education (though there is some of that). Most of what I do is help people get past the challenges they face above. You know what should be done, they have tons of ideas. But you have not figured out how to implement well.


Sometimes it’s just about picking something and implementing and re-implementing until it works.


Admitting you might be wrong

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

By | Accountability, Leadership | No Comments

Admitting you might be wrongI have rarely met someone that admitted they did not want to learn – unless they thought they knew better.


I have worked with highly intelligent people who have a firm grasp of their area of expertise.


Unfortunately, their intelligence, knowledge or skill does not guarantee they can run a business successfully. I have met many doctors, lawyers and other highly paid professionals that couldn’t seem to make it work without help. Some of them went broke.


I have also found high school drop-outs who dominate their market.


Willingness to learn is only a small part of what makes the difference.


The larger part of success is the ability to admit we are wrong. Before you can recognize that you are wrong you must be open to the fact that you might be wrong. It’s one thing to seek out new information or practice a new skill. It’s completely different to take a long-held belief and turn it upside down. Few things bruise the ego quite so dramatically. Humility is more than being teachable.


Don’t get me wrong. If you are confident you are right, prove it. Fight for your ideas, values and dreams.


What I am saying is that you have to have a small opening in the back of your mind that you could possibly be on the wrong side of the argument.


If you are reading this thinking “I’m glad that’s not me,” you might be wrong.


Good Follow Through Is Critical for Business

Follow Through

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Good Follow Through Is Critical for BusinessIn 1994 I was in St. Louis wrestling in the AAU national wrestling tournament. I had done well and made it to the quarter finals. However, I lost that match by two points – the only points scored in the match. I had shot in on his legs for the take down, but somehow, he countered and ended up taking me down. 


I rarely did this, but I was so baffled by it that I found him afterward and asked what happened. “You hesitated after the shot. It was just enough for me to counter.” I hadn’t followed through with the take down and lost the match.


In business, poor follow through is one of the most common mistakes businesses make.


Some say this is a question of integrity. I think it moves beyond that. It is a question of systems and habit. We have every intention of following up after the service, calling that lead one more time, or getting back to someone. Often when a ball gets dropped, we have a tendency to just leave it and hope no one notices. Eventually they do. We judge ourselves by our intentions, but the world judges us by our actions.


As a business, balls get dropped by the team because we have not put together the processes and not created good accountability. Creating a habit for our team and a culture that enforces those items are the key to creating a business that exceeds expectations.


So what now? How do you follow through better?


Take a look at your habits, systems and accountability. Pick one, work at it until it improves. Then, move on to the next.