The best way to create an accountability culture is to help people to accept accountability. The best way to accomplish this is by motivating them to be accountable. Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Understanding what motivates a person, whether it be rewards, recognition, promotion, or feeling that something is accomplished will result in developing that accountability attitude. However, you will have continued failure if you do nothing and refuse to hold people accountable for results.
How does a manager hold members of the staff responsible for performance? What about an employee who needs help but fears asking for help? The results can be devastating when we fail to have accountability discussions.
The book, “Crucial Confrontations”, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer really talks about this topic. How do we handle missed commitments, failed promises, and bad behavior with regard to our staff, our boss, our spouse, our children, or any other relationship?
The way I see it the decision to hold an accountability conversation is similar to setting a goal. Why do you want to do it? What will be the benefits of doing it? What will be the consequences of not doing it? Then make sure you know the root problem. Then you must communicate where the promise has not been fulfilled or where the disappointment occurred. The book points out where a lack of confrontation resulted in failure.
I had the opportunity to test the accountability issue recently with one of my restaurant chain clients. We were doing cascade meetings of the results of an employee engagement survey. The staff had identified things that made it harder for customers to do business with the restaurant chain. They also felt they were not informed on certain things that affect their ability to do their job.
Here is how they will fix these things, get the staff engaged, and hold them accountable. Here is also how the staff will want to be accountable. Management will invite the staff to work on goal planning for the chain. Part of goal planning involves identifying the possible obstacles to attaining the goals and then brainstorming for all possible solutions. Who is better to talk about obstacles and solutions than the people who are closest—the staff. The next step will involve outlining action steps and assignment of duties. Staff and management will work on this together and agree on who is accountable for what.
In the end this will result in a double win for staff and the organization. The staff has a say and understands the values and goals of the organization. But the staff is a stakeholder in this whole process. There is shared responsibility with management. When everyone has accountability positive results are assure. Both management and staff are fully engaged.
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