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One of the biggest fears of leaders when it comes to implementing and maintaining an accountability program is how to avoid being a micro-manager. Absolutely fair because for many leaders their version of accountability is to ask on a daily or hourly basis what's going on with <Fill in Project/Prospect/Client Name> or have you heard back from <Fill in Other Department/Vendor/ Partner/Client/Prospect Name> yet? Do that, and you're a pushy micro-manager.
Leaders of excellence organizations put process and structure around their accountability conversations primarily for two reasons. First, so they and their employers have a clear understanding of what will be covered in that conversation so both can be prepared. Second, because the process itself creates accountability for both the leader and their direct report—each holds the other accountable for following the process.
The process we share with our clients for accountability is called RECON. Unlike like RECON (Naissance) in the military, RECON is (mostly) a backward look at your employee's week. The best practice for this is a 15-minute, chapter-heading-only (no stories or coaching), meeting locked into your calendar with each member of your team every week. Typically, these meetings happen on the last business day of the week (no RECON on holidays). Our clients usually hold their RECON meetings on Friday mornings because they are fresh and there’s time left in the day to complete a task that they committed to on Monday if they haven’t gotten to it yet (more on that below).
The following example breaks down RECON for a leader talking to a salesperson:
Review their week based on what they told you they were going to do on Monday in terms of the number of activities, opportunities advanced/closed, new opportunities added.
Ask them to evaluate their week on a scale of 1-10 (1 is bad, 10 is good) then explain why. Always let them go first, or you'll likely create conflict.
What needs to change next week? Could be hitting their activity targets, advancing certain opportunities, having a difficult conversation internally or externally. The answer to "C" will usually come from their answer to "E."
What opportunities did they advance this week / will they advance next week? “None” is a big red flag.
What’s coming up for them next week in terms of prospecting, selling (closing), client development, personal/professional development? This answer gives you a preview of your RECON conversation next week and gives you an opportunity to make suggestions if their answer is along the lines of “stuff and things.”
Above, I mentioned an employee committing to a task on Monday. To give more substance to your RECON meetings, we suggest having a private, 5-minute conversation with each direct report on Monday to ask “how much of which activities are you going to complete this week? What opportunities/projects will you advance? What opportunities/projects do you plan to move out of funnel/complete before the end of this week?” This is also a “chapter heading” meeting. With answers like, “50 prospecting calls, 50 social selling messages, 3 discovery meetings, 4 quarterly client reviews, advance the ABC and 123 opportunities and move XYZ and 789 out of my funnel.”
If a member of your team starts treating either meeting like a check the box exercise that’s a good time to have a conversation about the purpose of the meeting, which is understanding what’s going on in their world so you can support them.
You might have a visceral reaction to investing 20-minutes per week per direct report. One of the leaders we work with, who had 14 direct reports at the time did, but when we ran the numbers, they discovered that doing both of the meetings described in this article and role-playing with each team member once per week would cost them just over 10% of their week.
What you’ll discover is you’ll get more time back in your week with those two meetings because you won’t need to interrupt your day for them to ask “what’s happening with…”
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About the Author
Hamish Knox is the author of ACCOUNTABILITY THE SANDLER WAY and plays an important role in Sandler Training's worldwide organization. He is a recognized business development expert specializing in executive sales consulting and sales productivity training. Knox heads a Sandler training center in Calgary.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and don't reflect the opinions of GreenSky® LLC, its management, or subsidiary companies.