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CEOs frequently mention that they have trouble holding employees accountable. Implied in that is that people are not doing what they’re supposed to do.  

Fortunately, the problem can be mostly eliminated by establishing better internal business processes. There are three in particular: Standard Operating Procedures, Measures and Employee Coaching. In the Big Six you’ll find them in the following Pillars: Process, Information and People.


Let’s begin with SOPs (standard operating procedures). To meet expectations, and be accountable, employees need to know what’s expected. Ideally the company has developed ways of doing things that work well and that are worth locking in and communicating to employees to ensure consistency. That means writing them down and sharing them with employees, especially new employees, and position back ups.   

Performance Measures

The next step is to establish a set of performance measures. (Here the term “measures” refers to everything: numbers, metrics, performance indicators, etc.) Measures are numerical feedback. They show us exactly what is happening.  Using measures in relation to an individual’s performance gives the employee and the supervisor objective criteria by which to target and track performance and identify areas needing improvement. No guessing, no spinning, just the facts. 


Lastly, I recommend having frequent coaching discussions. In fact, coaching as a performance improvement process is fast replacing the mostly ineffectual annual performance review. In this context coaching is a conversation between the employee and their supervisor. The underlying assumption is that the employee is qualified for the position and is doing their best. That said, everyone benefits from regular constructive, candid and caring feedback. Coaching sessions can be short, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes and should happen frequently, at least monthly.  

When we define our expectations, measure performance and hold frequent developmental conversations, we absolutely increase accountability and improve business performance. Like most things in business, all this is not particularly hard to do, it just has to be done. Put in the processes and enjoy the happy, productive benefits. 

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