How to Increase Accountability

by Howard M. Shore, Date: Jul 10, 2020

How to Increase Accountability

This post is a bit long, but it addresses a topic I am frequently being asked to provide feedback on now that workforces have become remote: accountability.

The true test of your team’s commitment and buy-in to its goals is accountability. After conducting many surveys about corporate culture, the number one issue we have found across the 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. We have also found that accountability is typically weak among partners, owners, and executive teams because these groups allow relationships to take precedence over the best interests of the organization. This is why the most successful business leaders have found it useful to hire a third-party to help hold them accountable.

Sports teams provide us with a great look at what happens when a team is working right. Have you ever noticed that the players on championship teams hold each other accountable? They will not stand for other members of the team not playing their role to win. Failure of one team member means failure of the whole team. As a result, they are all vigilant to make sure each other do their part to win.

“Without accountability, teamwork breaks down.”

The coach does not even need to get involved. Each player knows their job and so do their teammates. If someone fails, they know it and so does everyone else. It is not unusual for someone to apologize to the other team members when they fail to be in their position or a man gets by them.

Have you created enough clarity around roles and specific outcomes for each team member so that they can self police? It is essential that everyone knows what is expected of them and that this is public knowledge. The more clarity and specificity the better!

When someone fails to achieve their part of the plan they need to be held accountable and exceptions should be rare. If you create an environment where only some people are held accountable, or goals are only sometimes achieved, then you will not be able to create a championship team.

Measuring Accountability

For the most part, accountability processes and systems already exist within companies; they are just not working properly. Leadership simply 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 provided. Failure to do so is causing most companies to miss a lot of opportunities as a result.

I once completed 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.

Improve Accountability

If any of the above sounds familiar, don’t take it to heart. Just know that there are solutions out there. It would be great if there was a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem of accountability, but each company is unique. My team and I excel in extracting the underlying issues within companies that have all the necessary parts to grow but remain stagnant.

Strengthen your company’s culture by installing the right processes and systems. We have decades of experience in:

  • Helping your team members create a specific roadmap to success
  • Aligning your incentives with strategic objectives
  • Increasing focus in the organization around the activities that will have the biggest positive impact
  • Communicating your goals and objectives to everyone in the organization
  • Ensuring that there is not more than one person accountable to any initiative, process, and desired outcome

This part can be the hardest, but you need to take the first step sooner than later. Let’s create an accountability plan for you and your business so that you continue to grow as markets once again begin to rise.