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Developing Employee Responsibility

The workplace has changed out of all recognition in the last 20 years. Back then, people were expected to take and act on orders without question. But today, employees don’t want to be the passive recipients of orders. They want to be more involved. What can you do to involve the team, encourage them to take responsibility and to perform well?

  • Help your team understand your vision of excellence. Lots of people don't know what "excellence" means. If they're doing their job they tend to think that's good enough. Show them your vision of excellence that goes beyond competence, or create such a vision together.
  • Expect excellence from others. Project your expectation and give your team room to deliver. Many managers do the opposite. When they micro-manage every detail of every task, they’re saying, in effect, they don’t expect excellence from their people. They expect failure.
  • Lead by example. Don’t say something like: “quality is our number one priority” and then change the goal posts and send out sub-standard work when it suits you. If you take responsibility for excellence, the people around you will also take responsibility and practice excellence. Excellence is something that effective entrepreneurs, leaders and managers take seriously.
  • Get the team’s commitment to excellence. When you want people to take responsibility for excellence, get a commitment from others that they can do it and will do it. Ask them to make a decision. To get that kind of commitment, ask the percentage question: To what degree are you committed to excellence on this project? And what will it take to get you 100% on board? After all, there comes a time when you need to move from deliberation to decision and from consideration to commitment.
  • Reward responsibility. When people take responsibility for excellence, they usually do it for a reason. Maybe the work makes them feel good, helps them master a skill, or move ahead in their career. One of the main reasons people take responsibility is because they want to receive recognition and positive feedback. So give it to them. Praise excellent performance.
  • If team members make mistakes along the way (and they will),use language to encourage responsibility. Don’t talk to someone about his “weaknesses.” That sounds too much like a set of permanent character flaws. When you're correcting less-than-excellent performance, talk about the person's areas for development. That way you're describing a process they'll take responsibility for addressing. And that puts them back on the road to excellence.
  • Analyse the process for taking responsibility. For example, if a colleague had an unusually good sales one month, recognise it and find out what happened to get the results. By asking questions like this, you can help your team member understand how the process of responsibility taking led to significant results.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2018 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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