Creating a culture of accountability where team members and leaders take responsibility for their actions is not an easy task. Most organizations use fear-based leadership to get results from their employees. If they don’t perform, some form of discipline is used to hold people accountable like writing them up, cutting hours, etc. Ultimately, the fear of loosing their job or hours on their paycheck is what motivates them.
We too have a disciplinary system that we call “the point system.” Our point system assigns a point value to things like showing up late, not shaving, improper uniform, not following procedures, and insubordination. Unfortunately, once team members reach a certain amount of points in a twelve month period they are terminated. Although I believe a disciplinary system is important for setting the standards of behavior, it is not the primary means of motivating team members.
I always say, “the point of the point system is not to point you out, but to keep you on point till you see the point.” Or in other words, the purpose of the point system is not to fire you, but to hold you accountable until you grasp the vision and become intrinsically motivated. Working at Chick-fil-A is a first job for many and the point system helps establish the basic expectations that have to be taught to new team members. All the while, leaders must be consistent with discipline and minimize favoritism. However, there is another layer to the point system which is crucial to our culture of accountability. If we rely solely on the first layer of the point system we may never understand why team members are not meeting expectations and our system of accountability is completely fear-based.
Once a team member receives a point, it is important for leaders to determine why. I believe there are only five reasons why team members fail to perform, meet basic expectations or fail at the task assigned; they make a mistake, they don’t have the proper resources, they have a bad attitude, they don’t have the skill or ability, or they experience circumstances beyond their control.
- Making Mistakes – everyone makes mistakes, but its important to acknowledge your mistake, apologize and do something to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
- Improper Resources – if a team member or leader doesn’t have the resources (equipment, tools, training, amount of time on the clock, etc) to accomplish the task, it is my role and subsequently the role of the leadership team to ensure they get those resources or proper training they need.
- Bad Attitude – simply put, the team member just doesn’t care.
- Lack of Skills or Ability – This is usually determined over time. If the same thing happens over and over again and we can rule out lack of resources and attitude, we can determine it must be skill or ability. In this case, we may have to reassign the team member to another area of the business. If we can’t find a good fit, we respectfully encourage them to consider another job opportunity and help them find something within their ability.
- Beyond control – on occasion car accidents happen, people get sick, family members pass away, etc. We still track these circumstances but they rarely count against them unless they are supposedly “sick” all the time.
The ultimate goal is to treat everyone with honor, dignity and respect by having a clearly defined disciplinary system that creates consistency and fairness for everyone. In the wise words of a former team member, “grace to one person is punishment to the rest of the team.” If we don’t have a culture of accountability and we continue to allow tardiness, under performance and bad attitudes, we are punishing the rest of the team when they have to pick up the slack or put up with bad attitudes.