Operations Payoff

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The Power of Accountability


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A wise person once said, “It is better to move three things forward a mile than a thousand things forward an inch.” To help people get things done, top management needs to establish clear priorities to let people know what is important, through a business strategy or an operations strategy. Once priorities are set, if a new project gets added to the list, something else needs to be put on hold, or, as I often call it, put into the parking lot. Empower people to say ‘no’ or at least ask, “If you want me to do this new thing, which of my current priorities would you like to delay?” Limiting high priority tasks to three will help get things done.

To establish accountability, employees and their managers need to know who (and it should be one person) is responsible for a given task. If it is not accomplished, what one person will you talk to? I had a chance to ask a retired Air Force General what single action he took in his career to help people get things done, and he said he always established accountability and measured results. When you assign tasks, establish how you will know that the task is complete, what measures you will use, and when the job will be completed by simply asking yourself, “Who is going to do what by when?”

George Patton, the commander of the third army for the United States during WWII, once said that many officers’ biggest failing was not following up on the orders they gave. If you assign priorities and prepare measures but fail to follow up, people will soon figure out that you weren’t serious and the work will not get done, especially if there is another project that is a competing priority or that they would rather work on.

© 2017 Rick Pay, all rights reserved.

This is an excerpt from Rick’s book, Moving into the Express Lanes, coming in 2018 from Business Expert Press.

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