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Developing Accountability for Workplace Quality

Developing Accountability for Workplace Quality

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 6, Episode 40
  • Listen to Mike McDonald as he examines how engaged workplace cultures foster mutual accountability for quality in this Q12 for Coaches podcast on item Q09.

On this special edition of Called to Coach, we will spend time investigating the experiential, emotional and empirical aspects of each element of Gallup's Q12 engagement instrument and learning how it increases the power of our coaching as a primary driver of success. This series will be hosted by Dr. Mike McDonald, Senior Workplace Consultant at Gallup, who started at Gallup in 1990 as a manager/team leader and has had a variety of roles but has always led a team. One of his primary concerns for managers is one that he's experienced himself: How many well-intentioned team leaders are there who are working really hard but don't have any coaching or context about engagement and how do they lead to engagement through their strengths?

In this session, Mike talks about Q09 -- "My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work." Below is a summary of the conversation. Full audio and video are posted above.


Moving past Q06 brings us into unexplored territory for a lot of organizations. The experiential is important in thinking about this item and affects the quality of our coaching.

Qs06-12 are important for coaches in that they can bring added value to an organization. Q09 is not necessarily intuitive, and coaches need to step in and help organizations see its importance to engagement.

It's important that the question uses a "we" and not an "I" -- it can be a "pulse check" on how the team feels about each other. If they don't trust each other, the work is going to be subpar.

In a culture of engagement, there is mutual accountability, and no one can subtract themselves from that equation. The neighboring item Q08, mission and purpose, is aligned with Q09.

The request in this item is to "help me feel proud." Think of the things you're truly proud of -- the sense of pride is powerful. And that pride needs to be oriented around a collective effort -- the efforts of a team.

What's at risk if we don't do Q09 well? Usually we fail at accountability. Q01 works well with Q09 -- there's a perception vs. reality issue here. It's important not to let rumors and perceptions to run away, including perceptions of favoritism (for example, that someone doesn't have to work as hard and yet gets equal benefits).

There is a difference between being "assigned" to a team and actually identifying with that team -- the latter is a tipping point.

For Q09, about one in three employees strongly agree, which is consistent with our engagement measures overall. But when a team perceives that one member is not pitching in, that ratio drops to one in five. On the other hand, if everyone believes that team members are contributing equally, the strong agreement with item Q09 improves to 50%.

There is a 29% reduction in turnover and absenteeism -- a tangible business outcome that involves a lot of company revenue (for onboarding new employees). When our work and our brand has an inspirational and emotional appeal, we get that "dopamine rush" that makes us want to report to work the next day.

Q09 also has an impact on safety in a number of industries. There's a defensive side (avoiding errors) and an offensive side (scoping out new paths to a solution out of a commitment to quality). So there are "heroes on both sides of the ball." In coaching about quality, better to have proactive conversations with your clients about what quality should look like.

The best team leaders ask (about quality), "Where are we most at risk?" Finding answers to this item coalesces with the importance of the "opinions count" item (Q07).

This is more than a once- or twice-a-year item; it needs to be brought into an organization's culture. A great coaching question is, "When you rated this item, what came to mind?" A few additional helpful questions include asking the team:

  • When do you feel like quality is important to our team/organization?
  • When did you have the most pride in our work?
  • When did you notice someone on the team delivering quality?
  • What gets in the way of quality? What does that look like? How can we push past those barriers?

The "quick connect" for Q09 can be really helpful as well.

Managers can involve everyone in the effort on quality by helping the team understand the organization's brand around quality -- what does the 0rganization stand for, in terms of quality? -- and then bring it down to the team and individual level. It's important that managers be "out in front" of the quality conversation, rather than reactive. Coaches can tie strengths of individuals into conversations about quality -- with questions like, How do you use your strengths (Top 5) combine to help quality happen?

Is it "worth the cost" for employees on your team to talk about quality? Coaches and managers have to eliminate any perceived penalty to have these conversations, and make saying something a net positive rather than a net negative. They should make team members comfortable with confronting quality. Being comfortable with quality is a bad spot to be in, and should make us nervous. Teams have to challenge themselves on quality.

Manager and coach best practices for Q09:

  • Asking, "Who is the worst employee here, and how long have they been here?" (Whoever is the lowest on quality sets your standard.) And is this an issue of effort (a person is "slacking") or talent (a person doesn't have the talents for the job)?
  • How am I selecting and recognizing hardworking employees?
  • How do I define quality work, and does my team know this?
  • How many touchpoints do I have to ensure that quality is an ongoing conversation?

More on best practices: Make sure you've outlined the quality standards for each task or function; "weld" these with the expectations item (Q01). Let new team members know the quality expectations when you onboard them (and how the team actually does its work, citizenship expectations, and so on). Be on the lookout for "highlight reel" performances on quality. Share best practices. Create ways for team members to share concerns and seek accountability -- and sometimes that takes a relationship. Finally, lead by example.

Tendency is to bring in quality processes without solving the people problems first. If you address the human problem, the quality will come. By doing this right, you will "play to win" rather than "playing not to lose."

Additional resources:

Mike McDonald's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Input, Learner, Achiever and Focus.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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