Accountability is at the core of what most organizations come to understand is affecting their results and hurting their culture. CEO’s of organizations see this, know this and want to change it, so why is so hard to get it done?
The simple answer is people and the inconsistencies that come with human nature and interpreting expectations. We find reasons to justify or rationalize all our actions or inaction. We will blame anything we can to find for why the expectations were not realistic or unattainable. When we do this, we are operating from the victim side of the Accountability Stairs. The Accountability Stairs are a format created for use by The Growth Factory to visually explain the spectrum of employee actions or lack of around accountability. When we move up the stairs, we are moving towards a higher performance level and success for not just ourselves but the organization as well.
The Accountability stairs define eight levels of actions broken into two halves. The lower four stairs are the victim side that covers a total lack of awareness, blaming others, and all forms of excuses. The other half is the accountable side that starts with personal accountability and builds to a team and a total culture of accountability. We strived to get every employee to the accountable side and focused on individual accountability of their actions to meet the expectations of their role and responsibilities.
So how do we do that? Here are some foundation steps to build better accountability.
1. Create a culture of Accountability
2. Define clear responsibilities and measurements
3. Consistent management
4. Addressing team members not performing to expectations
Create a culture of accountability
It is up to the leadership team to create a culture that makes accountability a key tenant and value. Doing this allows employees a clear understanding of expectations and everyone who works at the organization. Clear expectations allow for consistency and fairness across all departments. Employees will perform to a higher level when they know all employees are expected to meet their measurements to deliver the organizations results.
Define clear responsibilities and measurements
Every employee from top to bottom needs to have clarity of responsibilities and expectations. The clarity needs to include measures and metrics, so the employee has no confusion on what they are being asked to do to be successful. Not doing this is the most common breakdown with organizations. They give vague job descriptions/expectations to employees that lead to confusion and interpretations that can vary by each employee and manager. Organizations that want high accountability need to teach each team how to set clear goals and metrics for the team to accomplish.
Consistent management is usually the most challenging step across most organizations accountability. Simply because we have many managers in our organizations with various personalities and beliefs of what is right or wrong. Remove the decision of how to apply rules from each manager. Instead, it should be an overall set of metrics that everyone sees and understands so not implementing those expectations equally across the organization will be seen by all. That removes the choice of application and accountability from the manager and creates public awareness of the measurement and behavior.
Addressing team members not performing to expectations
We must discuss and enforce consequences if employees are unable to meet expectations for their role. Our jobs are a two-way street where we need to know our expectations and perform to them. If training and coaching yield no performance change, then our job may need to be in jeopardy. Not taking on lack of performance creates a domino effect that will deteriorate the overall success of the organization by demoralizing productive employees.
It does not sound that hard when written in a few words, but the application of accountability is still a top challenge for most organizations today. I work with CEO’s and leaders every day that are trying to improve their performance through better accountability. I hope that you can use the foundation steps to bring stronger accountability to your organization.
This article was featured on Louisville Business First. Read it here.