Accountability is at the heart of every well-managed organization. It is essential to implementing plans, installing changes, or rolling out new ideas. Without it, things become chaotic . . . deadlines are missed or ignored, and results are below expectations. If accountability is an issue for your organization, if you don’t have a good system in place to hold everyone accountable for what they’re charged to do, please read below.
Accountability, if it’s to be harnessed well, needs to be in your corporate culture, in your company’s DNA. Everyone in your organization needs to embrace the notion that around here, we honor our commitments . . . our word is our bond. When any one of us says we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it. We’re going to do it on time and we’re going to do it according to expectations. Every time. And it needs to be pervasive throughout the organization and beyond. Honoring our commitments is an absolute whether it’s a commitment a subordinate makes to a superior, a superior to a subordinate, commitments from one employee to another, commitments to customers, or commitments to vendors.
Accountability is not a naturally-occurring phenomenon. So if you want it in your culture, you’re going to have to put it there and nurture it. How? It starts with you and other leaders in your organization. You have to model the behavior you want. You have to talk about it with everyone. You should congratulate people when they exhibit the behavior you want and confront them when they fall short. When you bring on a new employee, explain how we feel about accountability and commitments around here.
This accountability stuff can work pretty well throughout your organization except for the guy at the very top (that would be you). Who holds you accountable? Who holds your feet to the fire to honor your commitments? Yet it’s essential for you to set the example. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should anyone else? The best way to do it, if you’re disciplined enough, is to be very public about your commitments and just as public with your outcomes. Give your direct reports permission to hold you accountable. When you stub your toe from time to time, acknowledge it, don’t hide it or make excuses. Or, if you don’t like that approach, find a trusted advisor outside of your organization who will hold you accountable to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Either way, you must build accountability for yourself into the system.
Obviously, this all takes some effort, but the payoff makes it more than worthwhile. It’s great for job satisfaction. After all, wouldn’t you want to work at a place where promises made are promises kept? It also frees your high achievers to do even more, and ultimately, causes your low performers to self-select out. And best of all, implementation of plans, goals, and new ideas becomes more effective, efficient, and predictable. Not a bad payoff, if you ask me.
If accountability will be sort of a new concept at your place and you’re not sure where to start building it into your organization, call me. We should talk.