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The performance mindset: how to trigger accountability and achievement in your team


As a manager, maintaining the accountability and focus of your team must be a top priority.  For some, this is second nature but for others, it has to be a conscious mindset. That is to say, a chosen mindset which drives the actions and behaviours required to increase performance.  In researching high, middle and low performing organisations over the last 12 years, the evidence shows that accountable managers with focused minds run accountable and focused teams. And these teams consistently outperform others. So how do these managers achieve this? What do they do well and how can you achieve this same result quickly and effectively?

The starting point is setting expectations. If you set the right expectations for both the manager and their team and consistently hold people accountable to them, you will see a dramatic difference in performance levels. The fact is that when expectations are ambiguous, so too are the outcomes.  To build an accountable team you must provide absolute clarity around your expectations. If people know what is expected of them in terms of tasks, priorities and time frames, then they know what they need to deliver and by when. There are four steps to setting expectations and now is a perfect time to review these in readiness for 2016.

Step 1: Job role expectations

Too many new recruits and managers put the job description away once the recruitment process has been completed. The first thing a manager needs to do when a new team member starts is to have a conversation about what their expectations are. This conversation will have started during the recruitment process but now it needs to be revisited.

Start the conversation by going back through the job description in detail and filling in any blanks. Remember, the last time your new recruit probably looked at the job description in detail was before their interview, so there are likely to be questions they did not ask for fear of compromising your perception of them at the time. Check to see if this is the case by running through the job description and confirm with them that they understand how it all fits together.

This is not a one-off exercise either. The manager should check in on the job description at all goal-setting and performance stages, such as at the end of their rotation period, at the six-month review and the end-of year performance review.

Step 2: Performance expectations

A manager must be able to articulate what the key performance indicators are for the role. Most organisations have these formalised for each role. If your company does not, then this

is the manager’s job. As the manager, you must be able to articulate your expectations and how you are going to assess whether or not they are being achieved.

This usually means some kind of measurement is involved, whether in terms of numbers of tasks being done or completed, deadlines achieved or client satisfaction rates. As a manager, you must be able to ‘measure’ everything done by your team; there is no other way to calculate objectively what is being achieved. If you don’t have these numbers and facts, then you will be entering dangerous territory, where measurements are based on perceptions rather than proof.

Step 3: Team expectations

Now is also a good opportunity to share information with the new team member on how the team works and functions. Begin by discussing how each role impacts the other roles in the team and what the ramifications are if the work is not done in line with team expectations.

One way to achieve this is to first explain the role dynamics and ensure the new recruit sits in with all other team members as part of their induction and orientation process. This will serve to give the new recruit both a first-hand appreciation of how all the roles interrelate as well as providing one-on-one bonding time with their new team.

Step 4: Organisation expectations

Finally, the expectations of the organisation should be discussed during the new recruit’s induction program. To attach your new recruit to the goals of the organisation, you must share big picture information and map out for them how their role figures in the achievement of much broader goals. In the situation where your organisation does not have a formal induction program, again, it is your job to see to this.

About the author:

Anna-Lucia Mackay is author of ‘The Four Mindsets: How to Influence, Motivate and Lead a High Performance Team’ (Wiley) and an award-winning educator, speaker and writer in the fields of management and education. Visit