How To Hold People Accountable

How To Hold People Accountable

If you struggle getting people to do what you want them to do, it may be time to learn a few new accountability skills. Many collision shop leaders are frustrated that people seem to ignore them when asked to perform simple tasks such as picking up after themselves or living up to quality standards. This disregard for the rules may come across to leaders as a lack of respect, and sometimes it could be, but very often these indiscretions are a result of insufficient leadership skills.

There is a lot to know about motivating and keeping an engaged work force. Here are some tips that will get you started in the right direction and keep your team doing the right things in order to win.

Don’t assume your team knows what you expect

Much of the frustrations felt by my clients are brought on themselves because they don’t have written standards. Standards take on a whole new level of seriousness when in writing. I highly recommend creating a simple written “Playbook” to document how you want repeatable actions performed in your collision center. Once this information is in writing you can sit down with your staff and clearly communicate what the expectations are. Some of the best collision companies even ask their staff to take a short test to prove they understand what is expected of them. Again, don’t make the assumption that your team knows what is expected of them, you have to over-communicate what you expect.

Know how to hold an accountability conversation

One of the things that leaders hate the most is, unfortunately, having those little talks with people that aren’t living up to expectations. Leaders need to learn to become comfortable being uncomfortable and go ahead and have that talk! If you have done a good job letting people know what is expected of them, these conversations are much easier to have. Especially if the standards are in writing. What makes these “coaching” conversations difficult is when the discussion is based on the arbitrary such as “Dan, I don’t think you are communicating with your customers well enough.” The conversation is much easier and effective when you are explaining a gap in the employee’s current performance versus a known standard. “Dan, our company values excellent customer communication as you know, and you know our standard is to contact our customers every two days as outlined in our playbook. Dan, please explain to me why this behavior is not taking place?”

Inspect what you expect

Many of my clients find that inspecting or auditing their systems and standards pays huge dividends. Many of the world’s fastest growing MSOs have found consistent periodic audits to be the real secret sauce to standards being consistently met. Once deviations are discovered you should provide immediate feedback through employee coaching or holding a company meeting to reinforce the standards. Again, you must over-communicate the standards and what is expected.

Why consistency is the key

Most people actually prefer structure. Like small children, many of us may not like being held accountable at first, but almost everyone learns to appreciate the consistency and healthy structure of a company that lets people know what they are supposed to be doing and how they should be doing it. Far too many leaders simply hire people and stick them in a position with the full expectation that all the experience they have accumulated over the years at other body shops will translate into meeting the expectations at your company. This rarely works well! You have the choice to run your business or let the employees run it their way. Consistency also means that you have to quit turning your head the other way when standards are not being met. If you choose to keep stepping over your employee’s pile of tools and parts laying on the shop floor instead of correcting the behavior immediately, you will have a difficult time getting anyone to take you seriously as a leader. Your job is to be a leader, not a buddy! Take back control of your business by setting clear expectations, and holding people accountable in a professional way.

If your company would like help with leadership training or creating and documenting standards please contact us today. Visit for more information.

About the Author:

Dave shares his experience from over 30 years as a collision repair industry leader in leadership, lean and Theory of Constraints. Once the owner of a body shop himself, Dave draws on the realities of a real world collision repair shop in his consulting, writing and keynote speeches.

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