How does a
business manage employees when accountability is a potential
Businesses employing sales staff and other field personnel
in particular are potentially vulnerable to issues such as
time theft and decreased productivity. The first step in
establishing standards of accountability is to state what
needs to be done, clearly. The goals listed in the business
plan should be reflected in the employee job description and
in their performance appraisals. The next step is to ensure
the goals are being accomplished; that the job as outlined
is performed. The final step is regular monitoring to ensure
employees are on task and to correct the behavior that is
allowing accountability to decrease or be suspect.
It starts with the interview
process. Human resources, along with the hiring manager,
typically are involved with recruiting and interviewing
personnel. There are some things that can be put in place to
ensure the person with the right personality and experience
for working independently is chosen.
Asking the right questions
is key to narrowing down the proper candidates.
Provide an aptitude test
that demonstrates the amount of ability the candidate holds
in terms of working independently, on schedule, with
deadlines, and under any unique circumstances applicable to
A standard business practice
in most of today’s companies, checking applicants’
backgrounds provides a clue about whether or not a person is
suited to working independently. If it is possible to check
references, try including some questions about a person’s
history with working in the field to determine suitability,
providing the applicant has performed outside the office
before. If he/she is a true consideration for such a job,
hopefully they have.
Person Is Hired
Allowing employees to do
their jobs independently promotes morale. But sometimes when
things are in question, it is perfectly acceptable for a
manager to conduct field-monitoring visits of his or her
employees. Documenting such visits in the form of a short
review ensures employees take the visit seriously and come
to expect it, even unannounced. Regular management field
visits to prevent issues also is good practice.
Tying in goals directly
based upon time and productivity in the field is essential
as well. In sales in particular, goals are performance
based, and often so is compensation. The supervisor must
ensure this is clear to field employees.
Contacting the customer or
client is good practice to ensure proper service is
delivered. It also is a smart way to find out if there are
issues either with the product or service, or an employee.
Tailor your short survey to include questions about
product/service and employee representative satisfaction.
Conduct the survey in person if possible, but the telephone
also is a good option.
Immediately When There Is Doubt
When there is a reason for
doubting complete buy-in on the part of the field employee,
be sure your doubt or suspicion is documented, and back it
with facts. If you have observed your employee stating he or
she is spending two hours on a sales call that you know
typically requires only one hour, make a note of it and
mention it to the individual before it gets out of hand. Be
sure the employee realizes your awareness before it gets
more serious for either them or the company. It is not a
good idea to wait for the performance evaluation to mention
this unless the evaluation is scheduled close to the
incident in question. Give the employee a chance to correct
the behavior before it is documented in his/her evaluation.
But keep a file of documentation on any incident or
suspicion to help track any future incidents or questions.