A leader is the cultural liaison in any organization. Building trust in the workforce is crucial to organizational goals and success. Continual communication and transparency are key to successful workforce development.


Remember when you were little and mom told you not to go outside without a coat in the cold? Sometimes we would ask why, only to receive the proverbial response – “Because I Said So”. Remember how that made you feel? No one likes being told what to do and a paycheck is not a justification for authoritarian leadership.


Great leaders understand the importance of transparency. Imagine in the example above if the conversation went this way:

  • Science has proven that exposure to cold elements increases the probability that you will be sick, thus ruining your ability to play.
  • The average doctor’s visit has a copay of $50.00 and mommy doesn’t have extra money to take you to the doctor.

Applied in a work environment taking the extra time to be “transparent” is never easy. We have a lot of work to do and timelines are always the enemy. The extra seconds to explain the “why” for the decision we make builds trust with the workforce.


This type of dialog often leads to discovering opportunities for improvement.  Imagine, after understanding mommy’s reasoning – you suggested adding a face mask or coveralls to further ensure keeping warm.


Most leaders go in with the best intentions on being transparent. The confusion often comes with what to share and the level of detail. Generally, keep it high level. If more detail is requested, share a reference resource. Additionally, challenge upper management on what can be shared. Think about this: nearly everyone has a bank account and deals with cash in one form or another. In fact, cash is kind of a universal language. Why then do we not discuss financial information with the greater workforce? Would it not be more meaningful to illustrate the ‘true’ cost of scrap or the true cost of capital in buying a new machine vs. implementing an effective PM system to keep the existing equipment in top working order? In the end, share as much as you possibly can and engage at every level.


Great leaders know that workforce alignment starts with communication. Opportunities for communication include:

  • During Gemba walks – “stop and smell the roses”
  • Shift Meetings – “be the leader who shows up on all shifts from time to time”
  • Monthly/Quarterly One On One – “take a group of employees to lunch”
  • Plant Meetings – “schedule as often as you can”
  • Communication Objectives – “make it part of your staff’s measurable objectives”


Implementing Effective WorkplaCE Accountability

OVERVIEW – Workplace Accountability

How many times as leaders have we been here? In a crisis, yelling and dictatorship is the easy route. All of the culture, interoperability, continuous improvement, and strategic improvement gone because we failed to lead and instead turned to our basic instinct to yell and criticize in a crisis situation.

By the time the leader has reached this point, we can easily say that leadership has failed. (Of course, there is a place for this type of leadership in ‘dangerous’ or ‘potentially hazardous’ situations. ) How did we get here? Through poor accountability.

So what does an effective accountability program look like?

Starting with the basics, an accountability program should:

  • Maintain organizational culture
  • Reinforce trust and transparency in management
  • Create “measurable” goals and targets for behavioral improvement

In a typical accountability program employees are engaged in a 3 strikes and you’re out program. These programs are commonly referred to as a verbal, written, and termination review programs or point systems. In these types of accountability programs, the employee is typically told “what to change” and there are review dates with specific objective targets.

The Pitfalls of Common Accountability Programs

In the aforementioned methodology, the conversation is centered on employee performance with regard to established company objectives. In this type of environment, the employee is exposed to a manager outlining company expectations and subsequently expected to change.

The issue at hand with this type of disciplinary action or coaching is that leaders to fail to understand the root cause of the undesired behavior. Therefore, the probability of repeat behavior is high.

Modify the Script for Improved Workplace Accountability

To improve the coaching experience we recommend the following:

  • Begin the session by defining the undesirable behavior.
  • State the expected behavior and/or what needs to change with regard to the undesirable behavior.
  • Ask the employee what may have caused the undesirable behavior.
  • Ask the employee what he/or she is going to do to align with the expected behavior.
  • Document with expected milestones.
  • Followup with regular meetings on those milestones.

Why this method is better:

  • It virtually eliminates a confrontational meeting.
  • The change management piece is now owned by the employee.
  • It may well uncover opportunities for improvement in the organization.
  • Two way dialog is established.
  • Assuming the leader delivers expected objectives, a trust is formed with management.

Remember, always treat your employees as critically important assets to your business. It is far less expensive to develop than dismiss. A great leader understands that all employees are positive assets to the organization and has a bias toward resolving systemic issues before ‘simply blaming the employee’.


As a final word of warning for staff development, be aware a managers who frequently blame team members. When managers sign up for the job, it is a given that “buck stops here”. Leaders who fail to own opportunities in their charge need significant development. Left unattended, your staff could be creating cultural cancer!

Key: Workplace Accountability