Accountability. Most companies will say this is a core value or a part of the culture of the company, but how deep does this core value go? It is not enough to say it’s a core value, you must show it. When management doesn't hold each other accountable, how does that reflect on the company? When your team members and peers are holding you accountable, but no one is providing feedback, how does this reflect on you or your team? Is accountability really a part of your culture and core values if it's not being practiced daily?
At its core, accountability is about the follow through. It's about getting the things you said you would do done. It's about taking ownership of your job. Most importantly, it's about taking responsibility for your actions and for the actions of your team. Through accountability, team members begin to show higher performance and, ultimately, become more committed to work.
How are you measuring accountability? How are you ultimately holding your teams accountable? If you can’t answer these questions, there is a good chance your team members can’t either. While there are hundreds of ways someone can tell you how to build a culture of accountability, here are a few exercises you can implement to help drive the conversation around accountability and ensure everyone knows how they are being held accountable.
Define and document clear expectations
Make sure all team members know what is expected of them, both individually and as a team.
Written goals are essential, but real accountability goes further than that. You should be clear about the outcomes you’re looking for and how you’ll measure success. Agree on milestones with clear, measurable targets so if a project starts to slip, you can help to identify a fix and get back on track.
If your team doesn't know what is expected of them, be sure to change that.
While trying to build team accountability, it is important to assign tasks to individual members of the team. While teams may work collaboratively, if a task is not assigned to a single person, it will likely fall through the cracks. With one person appointed to the task at hand, the team knows who to hold accountable. This isn’t about assigning blame when something goes wrong, but about ensuring someone has the ultimate responsibility for seeing a project through to its outcome.
This is especially important to the managers who are helping to build a culture of accountability.
It’s hard to hold people accountable if you don’t know what they’re doing or where they are on a project, so make oversight a priority in your team. Follow up on expectations, goals and tasks. The key to doing it well lies in not micro-managing, but in getting regular updates from your team so you know where they’re at. You want them to feel they have the autonomy to do their jobs, without letting them drop off the radar. Without follow-up or reiteration, the expectations, goals or tasks you’ve set can too easily fall through the cracks.
Drink your own champagne
There are hundreds of ways to say this... "Lead by Example"... "Practice what you preach"... Or, our personal favorite, "Drinking your Own Champagne."
Accountable people lead by example, so when you take steps to lead your team toward more accountability, ownership and responsibility will catch on like wildfire. So define clear expectations, take responsibility for your own actions, follow up on goals or tasks and own up to your mistakes.
Accountability can mean different things to different teams or organizations. While it's important to define what accountability will mean to your firm, it is equally vital that accountability fits into your culture. Building accountability into your culture will help drive success for you, your team and the company.
Samantha is the Operations Accountant for Boomer Consulting, Inc. Her primary duties include managing the financial operations, handling travel arrangements and providing administrative support to the shareholders. She also works closely with the Director of 10X Operations to maintain and improve the use of software and web base applications to ensure they line up with our SamePage initiative.