Accountability is a culture, process, and systems issue. After conducting many surveys about corporate culture, the number one issue we have found across the organizational spectrum is “accountability.” In general, we find that employees do not think they or their colleagues are effectively held accountable for their responsibilities and actions. I have found that accountability is typically weak among partners, owners, and executive teams, usually because these groups allow relationships to take precedence over the best interests of the organization.

By and large, accountability processes and systems exist and are not working properly, and we find several of them lacking in depth.  In many cases, leadership does not enforce policy related to tools that were designed to hold others responsible. For example, the most effective way to hold salespeople accountable is to measure the daily activities that lead to sales. Many companies have experienced tremendous difficulty in enforcing adequate usage of the CRM. In our experience, when it is mandatory, salespeople provide the data, and management monitors and takes appropriate action as a result of the information. Failure to do so is causing most companies to miss a lot of opportunities as a result.

Success comes from executing the right plans, not from the planning process itself. This is a main reason why the most successful business leaders have found it useful to hire a third-party to help hold them accountable. It is not unusual the CEO to experience the most discomfort during this process.  After all, most of them achieved their positions as a result of their self-motivation, drive and confidence. These same traits work against them as they typically fail to focus on anything long enough to reach their stated goals. As a result, their team members fail to achieve desired outcomes. They are too busy trying to address the many conflicting messages.  Case in point, recently I did an organizational survey with a company’s top 10 executives in preparation for their annual planning retreat. We found that the CEO commonly provided this team with 25 new initiatives every week, even when the last 25 were barely addressed.

The above situations are not uncommon, and we typically find the following additional issues:

  • The CEO was good at understanding what needed to be done but failed to recognize and/or commit the resources required to do it.
  • The CEO was failing to prioritize and was making everything appear equally important.
  • While the CEO may be a master at time management, his leadership approach was having a negative impact on a subordinate’s ability to manage time well.
  • Too often responsibility and accountability are given without authority to accomplish the work.
  • There is not an appropriate dashboard of key metrics to isolate progress in the essential areas of the business.

If you are interested in strengthening your culture by installing the right processes and systems please bring your Executive to our workshop in Jacksonville, Florida on April 4th (Four Decisions Workshop) where you will learn how to:

  • Help your team members create a specific roadmap to success
  • Align your incentives with strategic objectives
  • Increase focus in the organization around the activities that will have the biggest positive impact
  • Communicate your goals and objectives to everyone in the organization
  • Ensure that there is not more than one person accountable to any initiative, process, and desired outcome
Business Coach, Business Coaching, Culture

About Howard M. Shore

Howard M. Shore is a Certified Gazelles Coach, Certified Public Accountant Certified Executive Coach, Certified Behavioral Analyst, Certified Values Analyst, and Certified Attributes Index Analyst. He has earned Bachelor and MBA degrees from Florida International University, and completed advanced executive programs at Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago.