If the only way you have to get things done right, is by doing them yourself, you’ve got a problem. Is it a lack of trust? Is it an assumption that no one else is going to meet your standards? Or could it be that you have not set the expectations clearly to begin with?
For accountability to work, employees need to know what their role is, be clear on what is expected of them and what outcomes they need to achieve. Furthermore, teams need to understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture for the company. It’s important to link what they are accountable for to why they are doing it, which is the Intent, the first element of our IMPACT model.
– Officevibe’s Pulse Survey data
A way to advocate accountability is to involve the team in setting their own goals and objectives. Often teams are given targets or strategic priorities without being consulted. Empowering the team to determine their own purpose within the business strategy and to work out what they bring, how to best operate together and what they need from each other to achieve those goals is the basis for an accountable high performing team.
Accountability is an excellent motivator
Accountability needs to be both vertical and horizontal. In a high performing team, it’s important for the leader to role model accountability, but also for it to move to the next level so that peers feel horizontally accountable to each other. To quote Patrick Lencioni, “peer to peer accountability is the primary and most effective source of accountability on a leadership team”.
Horizontal accountability can prove challenging so it is important to do the work to create a safe space where trust and communication thrive first. Avoiding conflict will often result in people “covering” for others’ lack of accountability. This in turn impacts their own workload and creates an atmosphere where team members continuously avoid open communication. Visibility and collaboration on the other hand, and an understanding of everyone’s strengths in working out what is needed for the success of the team allows for horizontal accountability to naturally take place.
Ultimately accountability is a commitment to your work but also that of your team.
It is important to celebrate successes as a collective and share in the mistakes. But accountability without responsibility for your individual actions and contributions, good or bad, won’t work. It’s a question of getting the right balance between the team and your own accountability. Without this, the effectiveness of accountability can become undone.
As a leader, having an empowered and accountable team doesn’t mean you can let it “all” go though. Vertical accountability does not stop at setting clear expectations and giving your team the space to independently be accountable. It is also important sometimes to step in when issues arise. To provide feedback to further develop those that need it most or to help ensure projects advance smoothly and in a timely manner.
Setting up your team to be accountable however, and trusting the process, will free you up to do more big picture work enabling your organisation to flourish. It will also mean having more motivated and engaged employees. We would love to help with this! We can tailor our IMPACT program to meet your team’s needs.