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How A Business Operating System Can Help Drive Accountability & Results

Posted by John Boudreau on Apr 19, 2018 10:21:39 AM

In my blog post, “Seven Signs You Need A Business Operating System”, I called out the seven problems that can be solved using a business operating system.

Here are the problems:

  1. The business feels chaotic and out of control.
  2. Increased sales is not resulting in increased profit.
  3. There is a high rate of employee churn. As soon as you hire someone, another person leaves. Employee retention and hiring is a problem.
  4. There is poor accountability. Employees are not 100% clear on their key responsibilities. This results in dropped balls, frustrated customers and stressed out employees.
  5. Meetings feel like a waste of time and ineffective or seen as complaint sessions where nothing ever really gets accomplished or solved
  6. The business is in constant fire-fighting mode, moving from one fire to the next.
  7. There is no budget which is used to plan spending. You do not have the information to make decisions. Cash flow is a problem.

What is a business operating system? At Envisionable, we think of a business operating system as something that helps to drive the following for your business:

  • Clarty
  • Alignment
  • Execution

Clarity around what is expected

Alignment around expectations and ability to meet those expectations

A system which helps you to ensure execution happens as expected

In this blog post, our focus is problem #4 - “Employees are not 100% clear on their key responsibilities. This results in dropped balls, frustrated customers and stressed out employees.”

100% Clarity Around What Is Expected Of Each Employee

In order to drive results, you must have a system for generating clarity around what is expected of each employee you employ. When expectations are not clear, employee moral is destroyed and results are diminished.

But how does a business operating system help? How do you ensure clarity exists? Turns out it is fairly simple:

  1. For each employee write down the top 3-5 (5 max) key responsibilities you expect that employee to deliver. Try to be as detailed as possible. Remember we are striving for clarity here.
  2. For each responsibility, attach a KPI (key performance indicator) which can be used to measure the successful execution of that responsibility.
  3. Ask each employee to do also do steps #1&2 above.
  4. Meet with the employee and compare notes. This a really important step which will reveal any areas of confusion.
  5. Revise the list based on your discussions and determine new list.
  6. Meeting weekly to review the employees KPIs (see point below).

This process will ensure you and your employee are on the same page regarding your expectations and how success is measured. This process alone will eliminate a ton of issues.

Key Takeaway - Meet with each employee to clarity each employee’s key responsibilities and KPIs (key performance indicators).

100% Alignment Between What Is Expected Of Each Employee And Their Strengths

Now, it may turn out that your and your employee don’t agree on the key responsibilities.

Be careful here.

Often, an employee won’t feel comfortable telling you that they disagree with a key responsibility you have assigned to them (this is why developing separate lists is important).

Employees may feel that they don’t have the skills to perform the key responsibilities well. It may not align with their strengths. If that is the case, you’ll see this show up in their KPIs.

Make sure you dig into any lack of alignment around the responsibilities.

Key Takeaway - Make sure each employee’s strengths are in alignment with the key responsibilities you are asking them to take on. Dig deep here and be open to any resistance to take on any responsibility.

A System Of Check-Ins To Drive Accountability


Lastly, you need to check-in with the employee to ensure they are successfully executing on those responsibilities.

I have had many conversations with business owners about poor employee performance.

Here’s how it typically goes….

The owner is frustrated with an employee, but he has not shared those frustrations with the employee. In real simple terms, the employee is not meeting expectations.

The frustration builds over time. Employee performance continues to decline until either the employee leaves or the owner gets so frustrated, that they fire the employee. Not a great outcome.

Meeting weekly 1 on 1 with your direct reports is the only real way to properly manage people. Period. Managing people is hard and takes time and focus. Not doing so and you are asking for trouble.

You need to record those interactions so you can make an honest assessment of the employee’s performance.

Key Takeaway - Make sure each employee is involved in a weekly 1 on 1 to review their KPIs.

Clarity, Alignment and Superior Execution Is A Cycle

This business operating system can help your business drive results.

Expectations are clarified, the team is aligned around the expectations and their strengths and execution is monitored against those expectations.

Not generating superior results in your business? You need a business operating system.

Need help, contact us for a FREE 15 minute strategy call to see if we’re a good fit.

Topics: business operating system, Accountability, employee expectations