Often when people think of accountability and being held accountable they think, “I’m being blamed.” This is NOT accountability, it is blame. And blame doesn’t work. Accountability is giving an accounting of yourself and your commitments. I have taken part in two different accountability groups now, and each week we share our commitments for the upcoming week and give an accounting of the previous week. It has done wonders for the growth of my business.
We don’t always get the stuff we committed to, accomplished. But now, by having it visible for all to see, there is an urge to meet the expectations of my peers whom I respect and who respect me. If one of us were to gradually just stop keeping our commitments, there would be some questioning and then we would let that person go. Because they obviously are not committed.
I have also been with companies that managed accountability in a regular structured manner and some that did not. The one that was not real big on accountability went bankrupt after being in the Top Ten on the NASDAQ in the 1980’s.
Researchers tell us that one of the reasons that people leave companies is that their teams are not accountable, they can’t count on others to deliver and that impacts their own ability to deliver on their commitments.
If people view accountability as a key driver to engagement, why do people seem to resist it? Who wants to have an accountability conversation? Research, conducted by Partners in Leadership, shows that overwhelmingly managers use “accountability” when things go wrong. Key findings from the research show that 80% of respondents view accountability as reactive, after the fact instead of viewing this as the opportunity it is. These conversations can be used to track progress, calibrate efforts, and to celebrate wins. And of course, notice where course correction is needed before it becomes a crisis.
When I started my career, I was in a call center and as a part of the daily routine we would break once right after lunch to have a team meeting. In this meeting we would report, one by one, our progress for the day and where we were month to date on our goal. If we were off, there would be some questions as to what we were doing to course correct. There was no blame in this it was just an accounting. Due to the visibility, my peers heard my numbers every day and I wanted my numbers to be the best they could be (I wanted a promotion). As did the others. And people wanted to help their team mates reach their goals
Because our progress was very visible every day and course correction was front and center, the team hit its goal more often than not. Daily may not be the right cadence for your team but visibility is required to be able to hold people accountable.
When you create a structure, a cadence, and a culture of accountability, you can expect the following:
- People will step up to meet their goal. No one wants to be seen as missing the mark.
- You catch the need for course correction before it becomes a crisis.
- People will begin to take ownership for their results.
- And team mates will take ownership for the team performance and will help others.
If you would like to have a conversation about the role your accountability plays in your performance or that of your organization, let’s schedule a conversation. firstname.lastname@example.org
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