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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #57

How Would You Rate Your Ability to Instill Accountability?

What do 'accountable' people do differently? They quickly acknowledge their mistakes and failures and learn from these experiences. They also seem to operate with a personal pledge or promise to a higher standard, whether that standard is about values or customers or the team/organization where they work. Accountable people put that higher standard first—way ahead of what might be easier or more convenient for them personally. Steven R. Covey said it best ...

"Accountability breeds response-ability."

The challenge for anyone managing people is that accountability is intrinsic; people have to choose—on their own—to take ownership and to be accountable. So, will everyone in your employ choose the path of accountability on their own? For myriad reasons, the obvious answer is no. But a lack of accountability within your team sends a message to the rest of your employees that lower standards are okay—and that's NOT okay!

In anticipation of this topic for this issue of CORE Bites, I reached out to a client who is a senior leader and who is also demonstrably good at instilling accountability into her team(s). I asked Cheryl to comment on the best way to make this important value pervasive—a part of the culture. Her sage response ...

"To create an open environment, it's important to create a level of accountability to each other. Creating an environment where everyone is comfortable to have open discussions fosters that accountability. It's not something that everyone is comfortable doing, but with encouragement and practice, it bonds a team. That way, when faced with challenges and adversity, you have strong team support."

Accountability is one of the most important values ... perhaps better positioned as an "asset" ... for achieving personal and professional success and living a meaningful life. The HVAs listed below will help you instill the accountability "asset" into your team.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

This week (starting today), look for opportunities to insert these HVAs. Making these HVAs a part of your daily praxis takes time, but it's worth it when it comes to building a culture of accountability:

  • "Behave" a Culture of Accountability: Include accountability as one of your (very) visible core values. Start the culture change by tying this value to your hiring, training, coaching, developing and, yes, even your firing. Start using the language of accountability consistently with phrases like "Your accountability is ..." and "Holding each other accountable." and "We're all accountable to ...".
  • Individual versus Team Accountability: Individual accountability doesn't always translate to an accountability in a team setting. What's typically missing is that this 'team' of individuals needs to understand (and appreciate) what they—as a collective whole—are accountable for accomplishing. The two levels of accountability can coexist but you, as leader, must communicate which elements are tied to team accountability and which are individual. Set the stage for accountability by talking about the 'Why.' One of the key characteristics of a high performing team is the ability to rally around a common purpose (the 'Why').
  • Expect DWYSYWD: You don't want to become a tyrant, but it needs to be made clear that accountability means something. Explain clearly to your team that when they commit to completing a task, they are accountable for the outcome. In essence, DWYSYWD (Do What You Say You Will Do). Sometimes managers will let employees avoid accountability at work because they dislike confrontation. But a lack of individual accountability is bad all around. And if you don't address the person with low accountability, the team may perceive it as favoritism or weakness, which can be demotivating for everyone.
  • Trust-Based Accountability: Authority-based or compliance-based work environments create employees who don't want to be accountable. When goals aren't met, lots of finger-pointing takes place. Conversely, in a trust-based work environment, team members are fully involved in setting goals and objectives and are encouraged to challenge assumptions or policies that stand in the way of getting things done. Trust-based work environments create employees who are willing to be held accountable for their decisions, actions, and results.
  • Reinforce Accountability: Honest, open, ongoing feedback is critical. People should know where they stand. When they deliver a task, activity, project, or goal on time, reinforcement will help to drive further accountability. Make sure to reference in your AFR (Activity Focused Reinforcement) the specific actions you felt demonstrated a strong commitment and conveyed personal accountability.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"If we want unity, we must all be unifiers. If we want accountability, each of us must be accountable for all we do."

— Christine Gregoire —