Why Accountability Should Be Guiding CUs Every Step Of The Way

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GRAPEVINE, Texas-"Accountability" is at the basis of every organization and management decision, according to one well-known business analyst. It's also one of the most "misunderstood words in business."

"Accountability is our ability to influence people to take action when they see things that need to be handled," explained Bob Prosen, CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement. "It's a personal choice to demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving exceptional results, to see it, own it, solve it and do it."

Prosen, author of "Kiss Theory Good Bye: Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results In Any Company," which is drawn from his experience in working with a number of Fortune 500 companies, stressed the key reasons credit unions should focus on the issue of accountability. He noted it's often thought of in terms of "something negative. It only shows up when something has gone wrong."

Accountability, said Rosen has its basis in "trust. Trust is built on making and meeting commitments without the need to follow up."

Other points made by Prosen in remarks before the Texas league's annual meeting:

"If you are serious about turning plans into results you need a common operating language. It's 'Catch the vision, or catch the bus.' Be clear in what it is you expect from your organization. Don't wrap it up in beautiful, soft words; then nothing gets done. Talk directly.

"What is the leader's role? One thing. To ensure that everyone on your team wins. This is a paradigm shift. If your people win, you win. It's a quid pro quo. I bet there are still some people who do not have their clear objectives for 2010. It must be quantifiable and measurable. Without those you are undermined."

Prosen said managers should ask themselves of every employ they have hired, "Of anyone I could, would I hire Mary again for this job. If you even flinch, you've got the wrong person in that job. You have a choice. Hire smart, or work hard. That's your choice. All of us flip a switch at some point. The flip is capable? Or not capable? You have to understand capabilities. Hiring mistakes are painful."

Prosen spent considerable time examining the hiring process and common mistakes that can be avoided.

"When you interview someone for a position, I hope you have multiple people within your organization who meet with that person," said Prosen. "But let's say that process is done and you're down to three people, and you get together and you all agree on Sally. She's the right one. Let's hire her. So you put together an offer letter, and that's where the mistake is made. Start changing this immediately. You call Sally up and say 'we're excited you're going to be joining our credit union.' And she says 'All right, I've got the job.' But you say 'Can you meet with me Thursday at 10 or Friday at 2?' She picks Thursday at 10. And she asks the question, 'Why do you want to see me?' And you say, 'I want you to come and meet with me and bring with you a sheet of paper of what you're going to get done the first 60 days you are here.' She says, 'Absolutely.' Thursday at 10 she shows up, and, hopefully, early and dressed appropriately."

Why do this? As Prosen answered, "You're screening for accountability. You can evaluate how accountable she is at getting things done. This allows you to communicate with this person and make sure you are on the same page. This allows you to see if you're hiring someone smarter than you. She shows you things you never thought of before. But what happens if she shows up at 10 with three sheets of paper, even though you asked for one. Can't follow directions. Doesn't listen. Some are thinking, 'Over achiever.' I'm of the former category."

Prosen told credit unions they should be focused on three objectives:

Future financials.

• The objectives the credit union has for its members.

• The objectives the credit union has for its employees in terms of development and what they're going to get done.

"All three need to work together to achieve sustained profitability," said Prosen. "In business profitability provides you what you want most as a leader: choices. I love having choices, and you should have it too. You will be able to achieve that providing that the market wants what you provide, and they do."

Prosen told credit unions to "set the bar high for your teams. They can deliver more. You can deliver more. Remove the roadblocks in their way. Take exceptional care of your star performers. I am not a believer in socialism in any way, meaning giving the ubiquitous raise to everyone. Those who perform the best get the most. I advise you to give more to the people who do more for you so they can connect with this accountability model. You will find yourself filled with a team of high-performers."

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