Accountability is a word that is thrown around organizations but is often unaccompanied by action. It is this inaction that allows a company culture, employee morale, and business productivity to suffer. To take charge of implementing true accountability across your teams, there are four steps to take.
You must first recognize reality. Second, own the present state of your organization. Third, create solutions and last but not least, move boldly. Each part holds equal weight and must be addressed for accountability to take shape.
Have you ever been part of an organization that claims to have accountability in place but doesn’t? This occurs more often than you might think. One of the reasons is because leaders have “buried their head in the sand” and aren’t ready to tackle problems head-on. It’s when activity gets confused with productivity.
You can have active team members who work individually on their own agendas rather than the aligned organizational goals. Without accountability, there isn’t a cohesive strategy. It wastes time and slows productivity. A pulse check is important for leaders to be honest with what the reality is versus what they’d like it to be.
Accountability requires assigning ownership. This is unsettling to those who are not used to being in charge of a team or taking the lead on assignments or initiatives. When no one holds ownership, there is no accountability. There may be certain team members working toward the goal, while there are others who haven’t begun. This lack of alignment produces frustration, burnout, and can cause people to jump ship on the project and the company as a whole.
Remember, ownership doesn’t always mean tackling a project solo. It means one person is designated to coordinate all the pieces of the plan that need to be completed for success. Where is the current state of your organization and how will you improve it?
For every problem, there is a solution. The solution may be immediate or it may take several iterations to get to one that works. In companies that lack a strong culture of accountability, solutions are secondary. Unfortunately, pointing out problems is the primary focus.
While addressing problems head-on is important and goes back to recognizing reality, without solutions, they are merely complaints. It is a leader’s job to recognize problems, prioritize them, and offer solutions. It’s also a leader’s job to welcome input and insight from others so they may become part of the process. Working through adversity together is what makes a team stronger. It gives them the experience they need to be more confident and trusting going forward.
Taking the first step might mean heading in an unpopular direction. Consider what the goal is and make decisions accordingly. Move with purpose even if it calls for pushback, change, or extra work, especially then. It takes a lot of time and effort to turn around a company that has previously lacked accountability.
Again, prioritize what’s most important but also what can be achieved easily. Build upon the small improvements to create momentum and increase morale among your team. When it comes to tackling the bigger initiatives, they will have already experienced several, mini wins that will help unite them to take on the main goals of your company.
Accountability starts at the leadership level and must be consistent. Instill in your team the value of accountability as the foundation for anything you do. When you have a team who knows how to be realistic about a situation, own problems, provide solutions for the future, and move boldly with purpose, you’ll see how it elevates your company on all levels.