When onsite teams know and understand the company vision, community goals and the high level of service expected, the level of ownership increases dramatically. The outcome is that each individual on the team will become more effective and more accountable for their daily activity and results to meet or exceed the goals.
Examples of what a team member could own or be accountable for ranges from pride in the cleanliness of the community, hitting sales goals, serving customers in a friendly manner, rapid response to service requests, maintaining financial stability of the community, consistent quality work, and keeping promises made to residents.
A common scenario of a team that does not have accountability or ownership typically means there will be mediocre results, financial challenges, resident problems and a huge headache. The bottom line is if no one takes ownership of the success of the community, it will be destined to fail.
The great news is that an effective team can be created with focused effort while maintaining and managing results by a strong and motivating leader. It is the leader’s job to ensure that every member of the team successfully assists the company in meeting its top objectives. The best way to help each team member be effective and successful in their position is to establish an accountability-based culture focused on producing results, not just ineffective activities.
Accountability should weigh evenly on the entire team being responsible for the success of the community and the overall company. Following are steps and suggestions to build a strong culture of accountability and team effectiveness:
o DEFINED JOB DESCRIPTION & EXPECTATIONS OF DAILY DUTIES RESPECTIVE TO THEIR ROLE. When our role and responsibilities or ‘our purpose on the team’ is clear, it gives each associate a road map of expectations and accountability to achieve the team goal and mission. The acceptance of responsibility means that, as President Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here." If a team member runs into an obstacle or has a setback, they will take responsibility to ask for help, support or be resourceful to find a ‘work-around’ solution. However, if one makes excuses or lets issues lapse rather than accepting responsibility, it can mean the difference between team success and team failure. A leader may even find an additional benefit by sharing this information with other team members to appreciate their colleague’s importance and contributions to the team’s success.
o EVERY TEAM MEMBER NEEDS CLEAR & QUANTIFIABLE GOALS IN ORDER FOR THEM TO TAKE OWNERSHIP. If the team is to be accountable, everyone must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them to achieve the overall goal. Each team member will be held accountable and will be committed to achieving the team goals. The team will also hold their peers responsible for achieving results and accept it when others hold them accountable for their part in reaching the objective. When all team members place the team’s success first the team becomes results oriented.
The team goals must be well-defined to confirm exactly what success will look like or how it will be measured. Examples of distinct goals would be: Decrease expenses by $5,000 by a specific date or improve occupancy by 3% by the end of the quarter. Once the team goal is established, each team member will determine their individual contribution to hit the goal. Examples to increase occupancy may be: The leasing team will work to gain 2-3 apartment leases a week while also focusing on retention to secure 65% of renewals. The maintenance team may commit to having 1-2 of each unit type available for tour and immediate move in. Daily or weekly goals can then be established to maintain the momentum toward the team goal.
o SUPPORT NEEDED TO HIT THE GOALS To help people succeed, leaders must determine the possible challenges and obstacles that may stand in the team’s way. A leader can do this by having each team member identify three things they need to do to accomplish their goals. Consider having each associate put their goals in writing, paired with the tools or support that are needed, to make a firm commitment. This dedication will also assist colleagues to think of possible challenges and find solutions to overcome obstacles.
If we have a higher expectation of each associate’s performance, we must provide the tools and support required for them to be successful. Having resources and training available will encourage accountability and consistent results. Examples of this support may be: sending employees to a NAAEI designation course or industry education conference, organizing a cross training opportunity, shadowing a veteran associate to build skills or forming a regional brainstorming meeting to find solutions to common challenges.
o TRACK PROGRESS Follow up weekly or monthly with each team member to discuss current results, goal status and possible improvements to keep everyone on the right track. Offer additional support, ideas or solutions to move past any challenges that may have occurred.
o REWARD RESULTS WHEN OBJECTIVES ARE ACHIEVED. Praise, recognition and appreciation are beneficial to keep the team driving toward achieving the goals. Highlight the specific actions and positive results that benefited the team. This will encourage the team to keep up the good work and will assist others to follow their examples of success. Ideas to show appreciation may be a company-wide employee of the month, a verbal “thank you” for a job well done, a personalized written note of gratitude, “high-five” praise at team meeting or a surprise lunch onsite. As said by Margaret Cousins, “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” A good rule of thumb for any leader is to say thank you - anytime, anyway, anyhow and for any reason.
A quick gauge to assess your team’s accountability with points to get started:
Does each of your team members understand exactly what they are responsible for?
Do you set consistent expectations for accountability? Goals?
Do your new team members know exactly what’s expected of them on Day 1?
Do you have a standardized way of tracking progress? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?
What is your plan to consistently appreciate and motivate your team?