Some people are just born with good people skills. You know – those types that took charge during every pain-in-the-butt group project in high school and actually liked pushing people to pull their weight. Many of us, however, would have rather completed the entire group project on our own if it meant we’d avoid having to manage our peers.
The moral of the story? Team management isn’t sunshine and roses, and it definitely isn’t easy for many of us. In fact, many managers, foremen and business owners find themselves struggling with managing their team. Thankfully, there are a handful of simple things you can do to keep your team accountable. Here are five better ways to hold your team accountable, none of which require you to morph into the workplace version of Michael Corleone.
1. Avoid this common management mistake
If you’ve spent the last decade grabbing beers after work with your team, it can be hard to make the shift to management and being forced to keep your team accountable. This can put you in a position of being a bit too lax with your team. Before you know it, Jimmy has somehow gotten away with being gone the entire month of March, Tim was busted at the neighborhood bar during work hours, your apprentice decided it was OK to “borrow” $1k worth of tools to do a side job, and you’ve totally failed at holding your team accountable.
On the flip side, many new managers are so afraid of being walked all over that they take things too far and morph into a micromanager. Accountability is about trusting your employees to do the right thing, whereas micromanagement is based on a lack of trust. If you’ve ever worked for a control freak, then you’re already aware that micromanagement is counter-productive and stressful for both the manager and his or her team.
2. Set clear expectations
Listen, nobody likes rules… nobody except for “safety monitor” types, that is (we’re looking at you, Bobby Brady). However, rules are necessary, as they let people know what’s expected of them, keeping us all accountable. While you don’t have to present rules to your team like Moses brandishing the Ten Commandments, you should let your employees know what’s expected of them in terms of goals and behavior. This also means leading by example, and making sure that all team leaders, site supervisors and/or foremen are doing the same.
By the same token, it’s also important to put procedures into place so your team knows how to properly handle issues that may frequently arise. For example, what should they do if they’re running late to a job? What’s the procedure for handling on-the-job problems or mistakes? Who should be notified when Bob inevitably drives a customer nuts, practically guaranteeing a complaint? By putting reporting procedures into place, it makes it easier for your employees to report problems rather than attempt to hide them.
Finally, make sure your employees are well-trained on both protocol as well as all tools you may use. Some apps (like Breezeworks) even provide members with live team training, making it easy to get your team onboarded.
3. Use technology to hold your team accountable
When your employees spend most of the day out in the field, it can be hard to maintain communication, and downright difficult to ensure that your team isn’t off taking unnecessary breaks… or, you know, going home for a little nap. GPS-based fleet management tools can provide you with a veritable birdseye view of your entire team, allowing you to see when your team is arriving on jobs, and how long it’s taking them to complete those jobs. Tools like Breezeworks even go one step further by notifying you when an employee is running late for a job.
4. Embrace mistakes
Nobody likes mistakes. They’re bad news for your customer, your business, and the employee who makes them. However, when your employees don’t feel comfortable approaching you when a mistake is made, the problem can escalate and become much worse… much, much worse. The goal here is to make it safe for your employees to approach you with problems, as “shooting the messenger” will only encourage them to start hiding future problems. Instead, turn mistakes into lessons. During your weekly meetings, consider having each employee share an issue they encountered and talk about how they fixed the mistake. This doesn’t have to be some hippy-dippy therapy session; rather, it’s an opportunity for your employees to learn from the mistakes of others, as well as getting your team comfortable with speaking up when mistakes occur.
5. Communicate Problems
One of the biggest mistakes managers make is failing to communicate issues or performance problems, either because they’re worried about being a nit-picker, or don’t have the energy to deal with every problem that crops up. However, if you don’t communicate with your team when they make mistakes, they’ll never learn. Failing to inform your employees when minor mistakes are made is unfair to them, and sets a bad example for other employees. By the same token, when one of your employees is going above and beyond, it’s important to praise that person in front of your team in order to both provide recognition and provide a clear example of the type of behavior you expect.
These days, tools like GPS fleet management technology is making it easier than ever to successfully manage your field team. Tools that connect your entire team via a single dashboard can dramatically improve team performance, giving you added peace of mind, and providing you with a headache-free way to keep your team accountable.
See how features like GPS fleet management and Smart Scheduling can make team management easier than ever before. Sign up for a 14 day free trial of Breezeworks – no credit card required!