Accountability is about delivering on a commitment. It is when an individual is able to take initiative with thoughtful with strategic follow through. An atmosphere that breeds accountability is about reciprocating trust. With that trust, the culture and leadership embraces failures and provides a learning scenario that people want to be part of. Fear is not a concern for the team as they trust they will be seen, heard and acknowledged for both their accolades and their errors.

  1. ALWAYS be more specific than you think you need to be. Everything seems so clear in our thoughts and seems to make perfect sense. That is until it is told to someone else. The communication relay between two people often will experience a disconnect. Think of the game ‘Telephone’ you may have played as a kid… you say something specific to one person, they tell another person who then tells another person until the final message is something about your ‘crazy aunt Sue that lost her shoe and didn’t know what to do’ when the original message was ‘my office has a feud on the roster for the All Stars 2 program”. The disconnect is real and it happens way more than we would like to admit. Absolutes are rare in this world yet you can never go wrong with always being more specific than you think you need to be.
  2. Create a learning atmosphere – embrace mistakes. Fear of failure and/or that internal critic can be harsh! Often more harsh than the actual consequences, however, people have it ingrained that they cannot screw up at work or they will get in trouble. By creating an atmosphere that embraces mistakes and provides the opportunity for individuals to correct their mistakes they will be more willing to try more innovative thinking and problem-solving. Sir Isaac Newton was one of the most influential scientists of all time yet actually studied for a degree in law. He had as many, if not more failed science experiments as he did his successes. If it weren’t for his ability to embrace the failures and move through them we would not have the scientific findings we have today.
  3. Help others see the opportunity to abundant sharing. The lessons heard at many a pre-school involve “Sharing is Caring”. How then did we get so far from that philosophy as adults? If an individual truly wants to improve themselves and those around them they need to share their ideas, concepts, theories, processes, wins, etc. Thus enabling more individual acknowledgment as others are able to share and repeat in those wins and processes. A good question to ask “What would be the harm if…”?
  4. Create an open acknowledgment culture. Humans have basic needs of wanting to be seen, heard and acknowledged. Whether the feedback is praise or less than desirable there needs to be balance in the acknowledgment. Do not condemn a person for a fault or error yet objectively acknowledge how that particular action is not serving of the overall objectives.
  5. Clarity is the foundation to more accountability within a team
    A. Crystal Clear Expectations – What are the results & outcomes you are looking for, how will you measure success and how should people go about achieving objectives?
    B. Crystal Clear Capability – Does this person have the skills and resources needed to fulfill their objectives? If not, can they acquire them?
    C. Crystal Clear Measurement – Clear, measurable objective targets. Have weekly milestones and check-ins. If they slip, brainstorm together…how do THEY think they could improve?
    D. Crystal Clear Feedback – Provide honest, open, ongoing, and frequent feedback.
    E. Crystal Clear Consequences – Repeat, Reward or Release. Is there still a lack of clarity in your system? If so, then repeat. If an individual succeeds then reward. If the individual followed your outlined steps and proven not to be accountable then release them to another role or department.

During 1:1 check-ins: It is imperative to have a two-way conversation and have your individual team members summarize important pieces of the conversation. Have them verbally describe the outcome they are going for and reiterate what they feel is expected as well as what it would take to fulfill the objectives. The more they are able to verbalize what they think, feel, understand and commit to, a greater level of accountability will develop.