What do you think of when you hear the word accountability?
Does it create feelings of uneasiness…fear…frustration…excitement? For most managers, accountability brings on the feelings of concern and challenges. We think about how hard it is to have a culture of true accountability where our teams self-manage and hold each other to the tasks and dates needed to keep things humming along. Instead, we view it as an onerous, difficult thing that is very hard to control consistently and yield positive outcomes.
Maybe the best place to start is taking a look at the definition of accountability. I like the straightforward version of “Doing what you said you would do, how and when you said you would do it.” If we start there with that simple definition, then the rest of the process should be SIMPLE also. Accountability forces us to stay out of excuses and blame and instead take ownership and responsibility. So, then how to keep accountability SIMPLE?
Well, let me try and spell it out for you:
S – Set Expectations – Keep communication clear. Stress urgency and importance of the task and define scope and responsibilities clearly.
I – Invite Commitment – Try to get buy in on any project/task is invaluable. Put it all in writing to avoid any ambiguity and model accountability yourself.
M – Measure Progress – Set clear quantifiable goals. Measure performance to these goals and always be coaching to keep on target.
P – Provide feedback – When there are issues, focus on the bad behaviors and don’t make it personal by attacking the individuals. Avoid the tendency to micro-manage and jumping in. Trust in the team and provide guidance.
L – Link to Consequences – Motivation is critical for success and both the carrot and the stick will work here. It just depends on the team and the project.
E – Evaluate – When complete, perform the post mortem. Review the process and the people. You cannot create a culture of accountability overnight.
If you can follow the steps outlined you will be taking great strides quickly, but it still takes some time to create habits and form a culture with consistent behaviors. These simple 6 steps can help you form the backbone of a great system and if they are repeated regularly you will move your team(s) and culture in a great direction. We just had one of our group classes work through accountability this week and they were all very excited to take this to their businesses and give it a real-world shot. We will be hearing back from them soon, on what I am sure are, their successes.
Wishing you growth and success.