What is Your ETA at American Income Life?
Most would think of E.T.A as your Estimated Time of Arrival… but in our business… it has nothing to do with your travel plans. If handled correctly, this E.T.A., could mean the difference between first class and coach in your performance as a Leader and the results next to your name.
Please give this some thought…
ac•count•a•bil•i•ty noun 1. The state of being accountable, liable, or answerable.
Accountability is a big word in the business world today. In fact it’s a big word throughout society… we want everyone held accountable. Think about it… we want people in public offices held accountable, we want teachers held accountable, and we even want the guy who messed up our cable bill held accountable. No one is safe… friends, family, kids and even our significant others or spouses. There’s no doubt that we, as a society, are aggressive and seek accountability quicker and with more vengeance than ever before.
At American Income Life this is no different. When results are how we are measured, how we’re paid and how we advance careers… accountability is a quick word to come to the forefront of the conversation. And it should… But there may be a different way to look at accountability… and it’s what you do before holding someone accountable that could be the difference between achievement and falling short.
Consider this… accomplishing our objectives or goals is determined, in a large part, at how we manage a very simple but important process… three simple steps… can help any organization achieve results like never before.
EXPECTATIONS TRAINING ACCOUNTABILITY
“Nobody succeeds beyond his or her wildest expectations unless he or she begins with some wild expectations” – Ralph Charell
Expectations: What is the goal? What’s the objective? What’s expected? Have you clearly and concisely communicated this to whoever it is you are leading? Is there a time frame involved? Is the objective easily measured? Do they understand? Setting expectations for you organization is something you do all the time. Have you given much thought with how those expectations are delivered to your American Income Life agency?
For example …”We need to hire 20 people” is not really a clearly defined and focused objective. However, communicating that “the objective here is to hire 20 people and have them licensed and submitting business by September 1” conveys an easily measured goal with a defined timeframe in which to accomplish it. It would appear there’s not much to question about what is expected in the last example.
We also have to make sure, that those we lead, fully understand what the expectation is… in fact it is a good idea to ask them to repeat the expectation back to you. We also need to make sure we share the consequences of not meeting the expectations at this time as well. There can be no room for misunderstanding or confusion. As always, the conversation should be followed with written confirmation of the expectations. A well worded e-mail will usually be enough.
Keep in mind, appropriately communicating clear expectations, is a crucial step in the E.T.A. process… in fact; it may be the most crucial. It’s impossible to hold anyone accountable if the manager hasn’t clearly communicated what is expected of them and attempting to do so may result is a costly management/leadership mistake making the task at hand much more difficult.
As leaders… Let’s make sure we communicate clear and concise expectations to everyone… every time. It may be helpful to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to keep you on track with your expectations.
S- Specific M- Measurable A- Achievable R- Realistic T-Timely
Let’s always be SMART with our expectations.
“The only real training for leadership is leadership” – Anthony Jay
Training: Alright… the expectations have been clearly communicated… everyone’s excited and the team is ready to perform. Are they? Do they have the skills necessary to meet the expectations agreed upon? Are they properly trained to perform at the levels they’ve been asked to reach? Before we turn them loose… let’s do something.
It’s now inspection time… Attempting to hold individuals accountable to expectations they are not equipped to meet is an extremely frustrating event…for everyone involved. The leader is frustrated with a lack of results and the individual is frustrated with the whole process… and rightly so. So, take the time to make sure that everyone is well trained and they have all they need to meet the expectations. Inspect knowledge, skill level and activities of all involved… make sure resources, if needed, are there. Ensure you have someone in place that can meet or even exceed the expectations you have established.
“It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable” – Moliere
Accountability: This is it… the part of the process where many people think they rise to the top. It is true that many managers are good at holding people accountable. Many leaders, however, have found that when the E.T.A. process is followed… accountability has to be delivered less often… even when it is delivered; it can be a process which is tolerable to all involved.
In some cases; people fall just short of expectations… In some cases; people will miss the mark by a mile. Some are repeat offenders. Whatever the instance, accountability can and should be handled on a case by case basis and only you, the Leader who set the expectations, can make the assessment and then hold someone accountable accordingly.
When moving forward with accountability… it’s always a good idea to proceed in the following manner: Be Firm – letting someone know that expectations have not been met; Be Frank – get to the point and don’t skirt the issue; Be Fair – have your facts straight and treat everyone the same. It’s crucial to be consistent… people will notice.
The last thing you need in the accountability process… is a plan… a plan for the person and a plan for the achievement of the original expectations. Both can be resurrected. Both can be saved.
So… Here’s the plan… the process… here’s your E.T.A…
Clearly defined, clearly communicated and following the S.M.A.R.T. format of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable and Timely.
Making sure that everyone involved in the effort is properly trained and equipped for the achievement of the EXPECTATIONS.
Making sure that whatever accountability the circumstances require…make sure it’s handled in a Firm, Frank and Fair manner.
When then E.T.A. process is properly implemented… you may find that you’ll actually experience more achievement and less need for accountability than ever before. You may experience a team that is more productive and focused… a workplace with less stress and confusion. You just might experience the success you have always deserved.
With E.T.A… you can be a Leader that arrives on time… and you can be a Leader that arrives in First Class style.
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