Companies that have employees who are highly accountable outperform others. Where there is ownership and accountability there is high trust, better communication and faster execution.
As former CEO Jack Welch said “By making your employees more accountable, you make your organization more productive.”
Ownership is about taking initiative and doing the right thing for the business. It’s about taking responsibility for results and not assuming it’s not someone else’s responsibility. If ownership is about taking initiative, accountability is about follow through and getting done what you said you’d get done.Without accountability, execution suffers.
Companies that lack in accountability are always micromanaged.
People play on their bosses with excuses and they are waiting to be told as what to do next. Moreover individuals and team struggle to understand their roles. Expectations become vague statements. More preference is given to few individuals and the rest of the team feel let out. People feel the lack of freedom in making decisions. Mistakes are discouraged and taking accountability for something is meant as something punishable and therefore people avoid them completely. When you look up. You see so-called leaders don’t walk the talk. There is confusion among priorities. There is more blaming. The situation become like somebody’s job becomes nobody’s job even though everybody was supposed to do it.
Bottom line, there is nothing much done in an organization that scores less on accountability. But when accountability is fostered everything changes for the better. There are three ways t foster accountability in your organization.
First of all,
1. Demonstrate accountability:
Accountability can’t be mandated. It’s a behavioral trait that people tend to learn from people at the top. Leaders who want to teach accountability to their followers must show them the attitude of being entrepreneurial at work. Most people work in an organization with a nine to five attitude. Work is done more as an obligation or duty performed for the salary employees receive. Here the chances are people tend to do what is convenient and they lack total commitment. Task orientation becomes the key to performance and people miss out on the outcome or the big picture. People who are performers also think that they only need to work to a limit that is only expected of them. This is ‘compliance boundary’ which is performing only to a level of expectation even if the person can exceed them with their true potential.
The first step to demonstrate accountability is to take ownership of one’s own talents, skills and abilities to perform a job at its optimum. The ‘compliance boundary’ creates limitations and people with immense capabilities become low performers and eventually kill their own capabilities that are not put into use.
Secondly to demonstrate accountability one has to act proactively.
Making an attitudinal shift of thinking like a business owner rather than an employee makes you proactive. Pro-activeness or personal leadership is about making decisions. Organizations that operate on giving autonomy to their employees can expect proactive behavior. Here the employees are not afraid to break the rules or make mistakes in order to meet an outcome. Accountability is an outcome of autonomy that’s empowered on employees.
In an organization where failures are not punished, employees will take 100% ownership of outcomes whether they are positive or negative. There is no blame game or passing the buck. Everyone acts accountable to their decisions and outcomes.When risk taking is encouraged, there will be ingenuity and courage from other employees to unleash their creativity to achieve goals differently.
Another way to demonstrate accountability is to step up.
2. Step Up- Rise to the occasion
Stepping up isseeing a need and deciding that you are the person who can, should and would do something about it. It’s demonstrated through volunteering knowing the fact that ‘if it is to be its up to me’.
When accountability is not punished and when people feel a strong sense of belonging, they are encouraged to step up and address the need. A person who wants step up will not talk about the problem; they become the solution provider to a problem. They are the first one to reach out and help someone in need. They are willing to collaborate with others to meet an outcome.
The act of stepping up in a business environment means that a person who is not designated to attend to a customers’ concern actually go the extra mile to perform an undesignated task. Individuals who demonstrate accountability like this can actually WOW their customers. Stepping up is an exemplary act that can rub on to others as well. When you demonstrate accountability you can demand accountability from others.
3. Be accountable to others
If the first two ways of developing accountability in your organization is ‘demonstrating it like an owner and stepping up; then the third means of developing accountability is by being accountable to others.
Be accountable to others. There are performers and non-performers in every organization. If you are their colleague or their leader, you are accountable to their productivity as well. You are accountable to performers when you acknowledge and encourage them through your words and deeds. You are also accountable to non-performers because if they are not productive, you need to take the side of being part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.
Investing your time, energy and expertise in developing other people’s skill is a way of being accountable to others. When companies take a shared direction its important to realize the priorities and translate the specific goals into action.
# Have courageous conversations
An accountable person will have courageous conversations with non-performers, instead of shouldering non-performer’s responsibilities. There will be clarity in communication to avoid confusion. There is a strong trust established between the team members to communicate openly and to set clear expectations from each other.
# Communicate with clarity
There will be clarity about the results, deadlines and numbers that really matter to your business. Accurate information will be shared. There will be clear communication about strategic priorities, as well as ongoing dialogue between managers and their direct reports. Everyone in the team becomes active contributors and there will be no sign of ‘social loafing’ in a team.
# Accountability is contagious
Remember accountability is contagious. It rubs on to others. It creates a fearless workplace. It unleashes creativity. It bolsters the perspective power of its people.
If you want to nurture accountability; make accountability a part of your organizational culture. Encourage rituals and practices that demonstrate accountability. When you see accountability in people, you believe in it.