Strategic Alignment

Four Ways to Help Your Team Build Their Operational Muscle

By Jenna Miller
December 21, 2020
3 minute read

My name is Jenna Miller, and I’m happy to introduce myself as the Betterworks Chief of Staff.

I have found myself in operational roles throughout my entire career; whether it’s running marketing events, writing corporate communications, or advising top executives, one thing became crystal clear to me: flexing my operational muscle is critical to both my everyday and long-term success.

This quarter, one of my goals is to help our employees develop and build their own operational muscles. Internally, we’ve worked to sharpen our skills when it comes to our own Objective and Key Results (OKR) program, leading to an overall increase in completion rates (read: RESULTS). 

We’re also working to improve our accountability, one of the more elusive pieces of the operations puzzle. With a renewed focus on outcomes, I can help ensure our various teams are doing the right things, while placing less emphasis on doing things right. I see this as the first step in building a truly high-performing team

Accountability is one of the harder outcomes to measure, but there are proven methods for making sure your team weaves accountability into the thread of everyday work.

Here are four ways to drive more accountability:     

Build accountability into your culture

Encourage your leadership team to model the behavior and values that you seek from your organization. For example:

  • Empower your managers to make their own decisions as the leaders of their teams. This will show the team that autonomy and ownership is valued by the organization.
  • Make it safe for others to fail by admitting mistakes openly and coming to the table with solutions. Leaders who never disclose their failures are often seen as less trustworthy by their teams. Leading by example shows others that failure happens and resiliency is valued over perfection.
  • Hire people who are transparent about their results – good and bad. Leaders who can communicate effectively will influence their teams to do the same. 

By modeling accountability, you are building a more accountable culture throughout the business.

Drive accountability deep into the business

You want to make sure individual and team OKRs are clearly linked to the overall strategy of the organization and that they clearly tie back to that individual or teams’ contribution. People who can see how their work directly impacts top company objectives will feel more of a sense of ownership over their business outcomes.

Another way to show this link is to conduct quarterly retrospectives where each person can dive into their results and share wins, misses, and any changes that need to be made in the coming quarter. 

Motivate

As a leader in your company, it’s important to know what keeps your employees engaged. Understand what drives your team and find ways to leverage that to encourage their best performance. Set clear expectations early-on about performance and remember that your employees are human – we all have bad days. Always hire people who are better in some way than your current team; this will encourage and challenge everyone to continuously improve.

Celebrate

You’ve been working so hard to develop the right strategic plan. Everyone knows their role, develops relevant OKRs, and you’ve finally seen some progress or success. Great! Don’t forget to celebrate your wins. Whether it’s consistent recognition of employees who achieve great results or a team celebration after a long and difficult project, employees will have a greater sense of purpose and accountability during the next big push if you pause to reflect and celebrate their accomplishments. 

These four ways of driving accountability are a key piece to ensuring that your team is building their operational muscle.

Feel free to reach out to me at jenna@betterworks.com to share your thoughts. How are you building that operational muscle with your teams?

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