How to Build Organizational Accountability

How to Build Organizational Accountability
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Organizational Accountability Can Be Built

When it comes to organizational accountability, Brett Hoebel, fitness expert and author of The 20-Minute Body, has some advice that belongs in the corporate world as much as in the health club:

“If I could give one tip for people — it’s not an exercise or nutrition regimen. It’s to walk your talk and believe in yourself, because at the end of the day, the dumbbell and diet don’t get you in shape. It’s your accountability to your word.”  Data from our organizational culture assessment agrees with him.

A Sense of Accountability Matters
All too often leaders seek to hire or promote the people that they believe will enhance their workforce and execute their strategy based more on their results or skills than on their approach.

By approach we mean the way they get work done and the associated drive needed to succeed with commitment, discretionary effort, and energy. All too often, well-intentioned leaders neglect to check thoroughly for a candidate’s sense of accountability.

When all is said and done, what we need are co-workers who pay attention to what they have agreed to do and who exert their utmost effort to accomplish it.

The Definition of Accountability
To be accountable means that you understand what is asked of you, you take responsibility for your actions, and you honor commitments even when it requires personal sacrifices to do so.

What Happens When there is Minimal Accountability?
At companies with little accountability, people do not always do their work as they should, others are blamed for lack of performance, and there are little to no consequences for substandard performance or poor work habits.  It’s easy to see where this can lead — to disengaged employees, an underperforming workforce, high turnover, and a downward spiral that leads only to weaker performance expectations.

Five Steps to Improve Organizational Accountability
How can leaders reverse such a drastic trend? By taking the following steps to create a high performance culture with high accountability:

  1. Set the Example
    When things go wrong, as they inevitably do at some point, acknowledge your role in the situation.  Accept responsibility.  No excuses or blame.

    Show that you have the strength to admit to and learn from mistakes.

  2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals
    How can you expect employees to act responsibly if they are unclear on what is asked of them? Work together to create clear, compelling, and believable SMART goals.

    Assign distinct roles for achieving them within agreed upon team norms. Then check again and again to be sure tasks and timelines are understood and agreed to.

  3. Set Up a System for Rewards and Consequences
    Employees need to know where they stand. Workplace transparency, accuracy, and consistency are important here. The performance measures of individuals should be visible to the entire team.

    When performance is exemplary, recognize and reward.  When performance is substandard, act right away to address the problem — either extra support, a different work assignment, or time to exit gracefully.

    Top talent will eventually flee if you allow mediocre performers to stay on a team with high performers.

  4. Clear Away Any Obstacles
    Sometimes an individual’s sincere effort is not enough. Your job as leader is to see that your employees have the support, tools, and resources that they need to succeed in their jobs.
  5. Create an Open Environment Conducive to Continuous Learning
    Be sure that your culture accepts mistakes as long as they are acknowledged and used as opportunities for learning how to do it better the next time.

The Bottom Line
Take charge as leaders to create organizational accountability. Otherwise, regardless how good your people and business strategies are, your workforce will have little incentive to consistently perform at their best.

If you want to learn more about creating higher levels of accountability, download The 3 Levels of Culture Required to Create High Performance

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