Accountability becomes mission-critical in challenging times. We need everyone in our organization to take ownership of results and make things happen. Creating an environment of accountability rests with management. Based on our 22 years of experience in organizational development and leadership training, we have discovered that managers systematically remove accountability. As a result the manager themselves ends up shouldering all the responsibility and stress.
A lack of accountability in your organization causes the following problems:
The manager is always accountable. The key leadership skill is to transfer portions of this accountability to individuals in the workgroup. If accountability is not transferred, then employees will potentially put the manager in jeopardy by not keeping their commitments. The manager then has to continually chase people to get things done, or take care of it themselves. Either way, the productivity and value created by the department will be below potential.
We crave accountability and we are afraid of it at the same time
Employees crave accountability because it creates a sense of accomplishment. They can take pride in owning the success that comes with the achievement. At the same time, employees are afraid that the punishment for not meeting objectives will be more severe than the possible praise that comes with a job well done. Managers can counteract this by shifting emphasis from catching mistakes to celebrating achievement. Once employees let go of the fear, they can step forward and create better results.
Micromanaging does not create accountability
Accountability comes when the manager makes it clear what the expected outcomes are and the boundaries and then lets the employees take ownership over how they achieve the outcomes. A manager may think that assigning job tasks is enough to create accountability. If the manager assigns a task and dictates how it must be done, then the accountability remains with the manager. If instead the manager describes the desired outcome and then gives employees the freedom to achieve the outcome using their own talents, the employee can be held accountable for results.
Accountability requires measurement, follow-up and consequences
Scorekeeping is a powerful way to have employees show one another and their manager whether they are achieving objectives. The scoreboard must be simple enough and visual enough that everyone can tell at a glance whether they are winning or losing. Public scorekeeping also taps into peer pressure. Most people do not want to let others down. Having peers able to see the performance of others gives each person the motivation to succeed and be part of the team.
Steps to Creating Greater Accountability
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