There are many contributing factors to the success of an organization and one of the least written or talked about is that of accountability. In my experience accountability is often the difference between success and failure, it can have a dramatic impact on the morale of the staff and their level of engagement, which directly influences the level of results achieved.
So if we can boost accountability then can improve results.
Leadership defines culture, and the first step in improving accountability for any organization is for the leader to be accountable. As leaders we need to model the behaviour that we want to see in our organizations. When we make commitments we need to meet them to show our staff what accountability looks like.
I remember one company I worked for where the boss demanded punctuality for meetings and was always late himself. That doesn’t work, we need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
Don’t Blame, Be Supportive
Blame is the antithesis of accountability, as soon as we start to blame people for failure, then we end up with a blame culture rather than one of accountability. We cannot make people accountable, accountability has to be accepted, and who would want to accept accountability where blame is quickly dispensed when things go wrong. That’s right no one!
We need to be supportive of our teams, understand that mistakes and failures can happen, and support them to make sure they learn from them and don’t repeat them.
Don’t Assume, Communicate.
If accountability cannot be delegated but needs to be accepted, then we need to be clear in our communication. We cannot just assume that people know and understand what is expected of them and will just do it. It doesn’t work like that.
Even when we have defined roles and responsibilities interpretations can come into play. Many years ago whilst at university I worked in a Casino, and one night I was security, and my job was clear to me – if people didn’t give me their name, and membership number they were not allowed in.
One guest arrived, he was very arrogant, he also had a strong accent so it was difficult to understand him and I couldn’t identify him. He managed to push his way into the Casino when some other guests left, so I did as I was instructed, I threw him out. The manager went crazy with me, he said I should have known that this gentlemen was the owner of a chain of restaurants and was one of our biggest clients.
People accept accountability and become empowered when they have the right understanding of expectations, the right skills and the right tools to do the job.
As leaders it’s our job to put people in positions where they can be successful and we need to make sure our teams have everything they need to be successful. The best way to do that is to ask. When our teams say yes, now they have accepted accountability, they have taken ownership and they have become empowered. If they say no, then we need to address any issues or concerns.
Hold people Accountable for Outcomes
We need to hold people accountable for outcomes, for the results, not for following processes. More often than not they are the experts in what they do, and if we try to tell them how to do their job, when it fails it’s our fault.
People don’t like to be micromanaged and they don’t like to be told how to do their job.
Tell people what you want, not how to do it, leave that to them. If you have concerns about their approach you can ask for them to explain it to you.
I remember when I lived in Germany and in June we had 6 days of torrential rain and the next day it was glorious sunshine. As I drove to work, through the pools of rain I saw a bizarre sight, I saw a city worked watering plants which were standing in 6 inches of water. The last thing these plants needed was watering. When I got to the office I asked some of my staff what was going on, and they said the rule here is that when the temperature is over 85F, the plants must to be watered.
This was someone following a process, working to the rules, even though it made no sense to do so. We need to allow out teams, our experts to be able to exercise their judgment to ensure we get the outcome we are looking for.
If you follow these 5 simple steps you will boost accountability, increase engagement and ownership all of which will help you to significantly improve results.
If you want to achieve better results FAST, the call me at 561 501 0888 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free 30 minute strategy session.