A Workplace Accountability Study, released in 2014, shared data that you see repeated across the blogosphere since its release: 91% of people want more accountability in their company. Yet, most managers don’t know how to hold people accountable – 82% either try and fail or avoid trying to hold people accountable at all.
We see learning the basics of accountability as a huge opportunity for companies who seek to make exciting process changes more quickly and to help get results to stick. Leaders at most of our clients tell us that they are frustrated that their extended teams don’t hold people accountable well, and want help to get teaching the principles of accountability broadly across their teams.
We’ve created a model to redefine the way company leaders and employees view accountability – away from “you’re in trouble!” and instead as “Accountability through Engagement.” The Accountability through Engagement™ model is focused on achieving the results through a combination of leadership guidance and employee responsibility.
Here is a description of each section of the model.
The leader’s role in motivating his or her team is to get them into action. It’s not enough to brainstorm ideas. Team members need to have a sense of the higher purpose, the burning platform, or the Big Why. The leader’s responsibility is to define the context for the tasks or projects that are assigned to the team members, and get them excited about what they are together creating. Success is where the team members WANT to jump in, take action, and implement their part of the projects – and they can’t wait to play a role to create their future right away.
Communication is a cornerstone of just about everything that goes on in a world where there is more than one person involved. The leader’s role is to be certain that your message is received the way you intend. So, if you want Joey to run the Alpha test on Tuesday for projects x, y, and z you can tell him verbally, send him a text or email, mail him a letter, or strap a note on a carrier pigeon – as long as you close the communication loop and make sure that Joey understands your request. The communication process includes corrections and clarifications – in fact, if you don’t have any, you might have to lean in and challenge that the receiver does indeed understands the message correctly.
Once your team members are excited and understand what you want them to do, they need to accept and take ownership of the projects and tasks. As part of your process to have them fully own their projects and tasks, invite them to design the details around the method they will use to deliver the results you seek. Ask them to create the plan (and help them if they’re stuck). If you are confident they understand the outcome you seek, you can give them latitude on how they will get the job done.
Keeping commitments is about your team members actually getting things done on time. It is saying what you will do, and then doing what you say. This, fundamentally, is keeping your word. Of course, you want to help your team make commitments they can actually keep. Ask them for the date by which they will have things completed – and challenge them if it’s too long (because you need it quicker than that), and if it’s too short (because you’re likely to be disappointed).
The concept of going above and beyond comes from understanding the minimum expectations as just that – a minimum. Allow your team members do learn and know more than you do as they are digging in and getting the job done, and encourage them to do what’s right, even when that seems to be more than the basic request you made. They may encounter problems along the way – empower them to do what is necessary to solve them, without having to come to you for permission at each step.
Results is where the rubber meets the road. When your team achieves results, make sure to build in some celebration time. Simple recognition will often do the trick, like a public thank you and giving team members an opportunity to present to a wider audience.
In the workshops we do, we dive deep into personal responsibility and into trust. We could go on for a while about each of these two topics, but I’ll save that for another time. I’ll summarize this way: for Accountability through Engagement™ to work, you need to have your team members trusting you as a leader, and you need to know that they will do everything they can to get the job done.
When you follow the Accountability through Engagement™ model, you will find that you actually get the results you seek. Your employees will be happier and more satisfied because they are contributing to strategically important initiatives, and you will build a team that is capable of getting results, even in the face of challenges.
About the Author: Pete Winiarski
Peter D. Winiarski is the founder and CEO of Win Enterprises, LLC. He is a speaker and the author or contributing author of seven Amazon best-selling books on business transformation, consulting, leadership, and goal achievement.
His company, Win Enterprises, LLC, helps business leaders transform their results for themselves and their companies. The Win team of resources are experts in business transformation, organizational culture, leadership, and goal achievement, and are highly skilled consultants and executive mentors.
Win’s clients experience fast results, lasting change, and huge ROI working with Pete’s team.