An Interview with
Question: Matt, thank so much for joining us today. I understand you are deeply passionate about company culture and creating high performing teams and we’re excited to learn from you today.
Matt: Thanks, Barbara! Yes, my passion (borderline obsession) has been around creating and understanding how great company cultures help businesses go further faster and consistently outperform others. I have no doubt made my share of business mistakes over the last 15 years, but one thing I have learned is that companies with great culture matched with strong accountability is an unstoppable force.
Question: So what is the tension you see around creating accountability and company culture in businesses today?
Matt: Too often we see companies that have accidentally created a company culture by default vs. design. So many business leaders that have worked hard to build their company’s culture, only to realize that they’ve created a culture absent of accountability. There might be a great work/life balance, free food, and drinks, and employees enjoy being together, but productivity isn’t as strong as it should be and no one seems to be fully on the same page.
I work with leaders who are often worried about suddenly holding employees accountable for their work and the impact on morale as well as just trying to figure out where to start while also maintaining a strong culture.
Question: So where do you start if you don’t feel productivity and accountability are where they need to be?
Matt: You have to start with “who,” and I can’t stress this enough. The “where” and “how” comes a distant second and third that too many companies start there. Made popular by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great, before you even think about performance objectives and desired results, you have to ask the question “Do I have the right people on the bus?”
Creating a culture of accountability starts with hiring people who actually want to be held accountable. I have learned this the hard way, but you will waste countless time, energy, and money, trying to motivate and hold people accountable who simply don’t want to be. Start by evaluating the organization and make sure you have the right people and get the wrong people off the bus ASAP. Your team will thank you. There are some simple and great tools out there to help with this process (EOS People Analyzer), but you probably already know who they are. When you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away.
Question: I understand the importance of having the right people on the team, but what’s next?
Matt: The second part of the equation is, are your employees sitting in the right seat within the organization. Too often companies have the right people that fit the culture. However, they are in the wrong positions. It becomes challenging to hold people accountable if they aren’t in the right seat and usually means you’re spending too many resources on accountability and will not get the full potential of that person or the position.
Sometimes all it takes for someone who has a strong cultural fit to succeed is different scenery. They may not excel within the exact responsibilities of their current role, but they do have qualities that could be a stronger match somewhere else. Time spent evaluating your employees’ strengths along with your hiring process and making sure they align with the position will have a more significant impact on your culture, accountability, and thus performance that almost all other performance strategies combined.
Question: So how do I introduce accountability into the company?
Matt: The first thing I would suggest is everyone needs a “number.” Numbers move communication between team members and their supervisors from subjective to objective. Numbers create accountability. Without numbers, it’s tough to know what the expectation is. “Do better” isn’t measurable, so it’s hard to know if someone has done it.
Every single employee needs a single, meaningful, and manageable number to guide them in their work. I recommend looking at each position and start with just one key number that is measurable that you can use to measure success.