When I work with leaders I often ask: “If you were the CEO, what would be the one thing you’d do to improve organisational performance?” One of the most common responses is: “I’d focus on improving accountability”.
Client’s go on to share their frustration about what they see as a lack of accountability in their organisations – people who don’t hold themselves accountable for doing their work to a high standard – poor performance being tolerated – no consequences when people fail to deliver what they promised – lack of proactivity and ownership – unwillingness to have the hard conversations. And the responses are remarkably similar whether I’m working in a large blue chip organisation or a more agile smaller business. Lack of accountability clearly touches a nerve.
What’s interesting is that when I explore the accountability issue with the same clients, many acknowledge that they themselves are not doing all they can to drive accountability in their organisations.
So how might you improve accountability in your organisation?
It’s useful to reflect and ask yourself:
- Do I lead by example? Do I do what I say I am going to do? Do I deliver my best work, time after time? Do I acknowledge my mistakes? Do I ask for help when I need it?
- Do I make expectations clear from the outset? Have I made my expectations crystal clear or clear as mud? Have I given people all the information they need? Do my reports have a clear understanding of their role and responsibility?
- Do I support my people without “micro-managing” them? Have my people the resources they need to perform their job? Do I make myself available to provide proper guidance and support? Do I find myself constantly questioning my reports’ decisions? Empowering someone to do something and then not letting them do it is not empowerment at all.
- Do I manage performance regularly? Do I meet with my people regularly to assess how they are going? Do I ask specific questions on how they are tracking and provide constructive feedback on how things could be improved?
- Do I have the hard conversations? Am I proactive about expressing my concern when things appear to be going off the rails? Do I use concrete facts to explain my thinking? Do I clearly spell out what I want and what I don’t want? Do I ask open questions in order to get a better understanding of my report’s perspective? Do I listen attentively or am I formulating my next response?
- Do I make tough decisions? Am I prepared to make the hard decisions when people continue to fail to do what they should? Have I got people who are not right for their role or not right for the organisation? When this happens you need to do whatever is necessary to help them find a more meaningful role elsewhere.
Creating a ‘culture of accountability’ starts with you.
If you’d like some assistance on driving accountability in your organisation, don’t hesitate to drop me an email: email@example.com