How to Create a System of Execution and Accountability
Investing in a culture that values accountability can increase your execution rate and set your system up for continued success.
By Brian Spindel, CFE
That is, the other side of the equation is making sure things actually get done. That sounds simple enough but proves to be a challenging feat in the business world. In fact, according to the Project Management Institute, only 56 percent of strategic plans meet their goals. hallmark of franchise businesses is the development of proven, easy-to-follow procedures. But even with the best strategic and operational plans in place, the battle in ensuring success is only halfway won without proper execution.
How can you increase your brand’s rate of execution?
Set the Expectation of Accountability
What if everyone in a franchise network approached every situation with the expectation that they would follow through and execute the job at hand?
That’s what happens when accountability becomes ingrained into the culture of a company. For that to happen, leaders need to clearly articulate the importance of accountability from the outset.
One way to achieve this is to define the trait as a core value — an unshakeable belief that guides the company. It then becomes the lens from which every project is viewed. For example, at PostNet, one of our core values is “Own It.” That’s further defined as being accountable for your actions, being reliable, someone people can count on and being urgent, never putting off what you can do today.
To be effective, however, core values can’t just be statements found on an obscure section of a website or on a plaque in the CEO’s office. Prospective franchisees and employees need to be evaluated on whether they too share the core values. For current members of the system, the corporate office needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of the core value by leading by example and assuming responsibility for its actions. Finally, the message must be regularly communicated so that it’s woven into the fabric of the company, such as in company-wide newsletters and webinars or at franchisee conferences.
Use Technology to Drive Execution
Franchises have a wealth of tools available at their disposal that can help reinforce accountability and drive execution. These can range from off-the-shelf to customized and proprietary solutions, depending on the needs of the organization.
A main benefit of technology is that it creates transparency, which motivates employees because they know supervisors can check to see whether they fulfilled their commitments.
Take sales for example. Whether in franchise development or unit-level transactions, there are usually specific actions in the sales process that need to be completed to increase the likelihood of a sale. If an employee neglects to follow up on a franchise lead, chances are you can kiss that deal goodbye. The same holds true when a customer asks for an updated quote. If it doesn’t get delivered by a staff member, nine times out of 10 the sale doesn’t happen. Solutions such as Salesforce, a customer relationship management system, create transparency because everyone on the team can see whether the requisite task was completed and by whom.
Technology also helps facilitate communication, which is a crucial element in execution. When rolling out new marketing programs, for example, franchisors need to be able to inform the system what needs to be done. Likewise, franchisees require an open line of communication to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and resources to follow through on their end. Again, this sounds easy, but can get complicated in real-life scenarios, even for small franchise networks. Franchise management systems and intranets are convenient ways to house all communication in one central location, keeping everyone updated as to what’s going on while maintaining consistent dialogue.
Provide Positive Feedback to Reinforce Accountability
Many companies know how to provide constructive criticism or analyze results to determine whether goals were achieved. This is invaluable feedback since it empowers employees to understand how they can more effectively execute their job. So, it’s a good idea to keep performance reviews a formal part of your organization.
However, franchises should also strive to provide positive feedback when a task is done well. This helps to make accountability an enjoyable part of the job, which inspires employees and leads to better execution.
Every company asks their employees to go above and beyond, apply themselves to the next level and constantly do more. But without recognizing good and hard work, employees will likely suffer from burn out, an adversary of execution.
There are two main ways of rewarding employees and companies should try to integrate both of them. A straightforward way of giving credit when it’s due is offering cash bonuses, which motivates employees to work hard. Another way, one that can take place on a daily basis, is surprising employees with perks that thank them for their hard work. This latter form of recognition can include having a celebration after a successful program implementation or taking the staff out to lunch when a challenging project is completed. Even small tokens of appreciation, such as gift cards, can make employees more cognizant of how their work impacts the goals of the organization.
Franchise brands are defined by how well they can execute. The end customer never sees the bold vision or great strategy of a company, only the final outcome. By investing in a culture that values accountability, as well as technology that makes it easier to get the job done, franchises can increase their execution rate and set their systems up for continued success.
Brian Spindel, CFE, is the president and co-founder of PostNet International Franchise Corp. PostNet Neighborhood Business Centers provide marketing services and specialize in design, printing and shipping. The company has more than 700 locations worldwide. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org.