Taking the Guesswork Out of Work

Culture of Accountability

By: Dr. Valerie D.W. James

February 3, 2020

If accountability is so important to success in business, why do we struggle with it? Within an organization, leaders are generally the culprits of any failures or the heroes of any victories in the company. Lack of accountability results in business failure, project failure, team failure, and turnover. When a glitch occurs or something goes wrong, no one has time for excuses. Taking the guess work out of work and taking responsibility is the name of the game—and tag, you are it!

In order to make sure that YOU as well as your employees stay on task, accountability starts with the leaders of the company. After leaders, accountability cascades down to employees at every level. Accountability means to account for, or to explain, one’s actions (or inactions) for which one has responsibility and authority. When accountability is done right within your company, the results are the creation of better processes, productivity growth, and more efficient people.

Here are three easy tips I share with clients that are often underutilized on how to get everyone on the team to fully participate in the call to accountability....

1. Clearly define roles, goals, and expectations.

It is important to set and delegate goals throughout the organization and work as a leader to make sure that everyone is on the same page in relation to specific duties. Employees need to know what they are being held accountable for and why. As leaders, here’s how we can help:

  • Don’t just assign busy work.
  • When assigning or delegating work, clearly communicate how the employee’s department helps the company to achieve its mission, values, and purpose.
  • If you are assigning stretch goals, ensure additional training, tools, and resources are available to assist in the achievement of those goals.

With clear expectations and accountability, workers and teams can produce better business outcomes, team synergy, and employee retention.

2. Hold people accountable for both actions and results.

Every employee within your organization is valuable. One of the tools that is great for setting expectations and accountability is a Mission Aligned Position Agreement (MAP Agreement). Creating and communicating to each member a MAP Agreement helps:

  • Clarify individual roles and responsibilities.
  • Provide them clear alignment and guidelines for their work.
  • Communicate the relevance and the significance of the work being done.
  • Improve consistency from you as the leader in your follow-up.

When role delegation is clear and precise, it minimizes stress and maximizes productivity for both the leaders and their teams.

3. Be visible and lead by example to motivate goal achievement.

Remember, what people see from their leader is most likely what you are going to get! Leadership includes supporting and empowering employees in successes and failures. This allows your team to develop a useful insight on upcoming projects and assignments within the company.

Use successful experiences to celebrate and harvest even more wins. What you praise, you will get more of.

  • Leverage one-on-one meetings to avoid discovering surprises.
  • Don’t be afraid to terminate under-performing employees in a kind and compassionate way.
  • Use all unsuccessful experiences to your advantage to formulate new and exciting developments.

Remember that your other employees are affected too by a firing. Analyzing these details within a company can create individual and organizational growth.

One way to be more effective is to prioritize ongoing communication about how everyone's personal contributions impact the organization’s successes and provide updates on progress. They want to know where they stand. They want to know what they’re doing right and what needs improvement, and so should you as their leader.

‍Download our Mission Aligned Position Agreement and Mission Alignment Action Planning Worksheet and use it as a template for you and your employees to share expectations that are mission aligned.

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