In Roger Connors and Tom Smith’s novel “Change the culture, change the game”, Connors and Smith elaborate on the strategy for energizing your organization and creating accountability for results that all businesses should be cognisant of in their operations.

The Basic Principle

In summary the authors Connors and Smith simply state that:

  • Every organisation has a culture.
  • Either you manage your culture, or it will manage you.
  • Leaders must create the needed culture.

When People Do Not Feel Accountable:

  • People externalise the need for change.
  • People wait to be told what to do.
  • People institutionalise poor performance excuses as accepted reasons not to move forward.
  • People don’t get engaged and don’t show full ownership.

When People Feel They Are Accountable

  • People internalise the changes they need to make.
  • People take the initiative to figure out what to do.
  • People stop making excuses and start asking, “What else can I do?”
  • People personally invest in making things happen.

Steps to Accountability

A culture of accountability exists when people in every corner of the organisation make the personal choice to take the Steps to Accountability:

  • See It. When you See It, you relentlessly obtain the perspectives of others, communicate openly and candidly, ask for and offer feedback, and hear the hard things that allow you to see reality.
  • Own It. When you own it, you align yourself with the mission and priorities of the organisation and accept them as your own.
  • Solve It. When you take this step, you constantly ask the question “What else can I do to achieve results, overcome obstacles, and make progress?”
  • Do It. This means doing what you say you will do, focusing on top priorities, staying above the line by not blaming others, and sustaining an environment of trust.

When you accelerate the desired change in the organisational culture and create a culture of accountability you:

  • Increase the leadership effectiveness of the management team.
  • Develop both individual and organisational capability in implementing the key culture management tools essential to accelerating change.
  • Implement feedback as a vehicle for personal improvement in living the new culture.
  • Identify and implement the beliefs needed to create the changes needed in the culture.
  • Align the organisation around the organisation’s strategic plans.
  • Create greater individual and organisational accountability for results.

Creating a Culture of Accountability

Accountability is an odd concept. It has been defined as having the responsibility and authority to act and fully accept the natural and logical consequences for the results of those actions. Personal accountability is an admirable trait, one that everyone should strive to attain. But as a leader, or even as a high-functioning member of a team, it is essential to create a culture of accountability for individuals and the group as a whole.

While some may attach a negative air to the word accountability, research indicates that holding people accountable for their results has very positive effects: greater accuracy of work, better response to role obligations, more vigilant problem solving, better decision making, more cooperation with co-workers, and higher team satisfaction.

At its foundation, the tactics for creating a culture of accountability are:

  • Set expectations
  • Invite commitment
  • Measure progress
  • Provide feedback
  • Link to consequences
  • Evaluate effectiveness

But as it goes with all foundations, there must be a firm structure added in addition to having a complete building. Here are several additional tactics to help build a culture of accountability.

Set Expectations

It is important to set firm, clear, and concise expectations for any group. Accountability will not grow where team members are unsure of the group’s purpose and vision. Teams need to know what is expected of them before they, in turn, can be expected to be held accountable.

You can set expectations by:

  • Clearly communicating the organisation’s mission and vision.
  • Emphasising the urgency and importance of whatever task you have assigned.
  • Laying out the standards that will be upheld throughout the process. Be specific regarding end results, time frames, and expected levels of effort.
  • Clearly and explicitly defining each member’s role and responsibilities.
  • The clearer initial goals and expectations are, the less time will be spent arguing when someone is held accountable because of ambiguous initial goals.

Invite Commitment

Although you may make these initial conditions and goals clear, it is important to have the team members commit to these standards and expectations. Work with your team to make sure that everyone commits to their role, understanding how it will benefit both the individual and the team. Be sure to put it in writing, too. This will give the commitment a physical representation that cannot be debated.

Accountability grows when this connection is made, and is enhanced when other people are aware of the commitment. Team members are further motivated to accomplish their tasks and will more readily welcome you holding them accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

Provide Feedback

After setting clear expectations, committing to set goals, and measuring progress, it is important to provide feedback to team members to acknowledge improvement towards the goal. When creating a culture of accountability, make sure feedback that you do give highlights both the positive things the team member has done and the areas where they can improve.

Link to Consequences

Not all people are driven by internal motivating factors. So, in creating a culture of accountability, it is important to emphasise the link to consequences, whether as a ‘stick’ behind the team members to drive them forward, or as a carrot for them to chase. As a leader, it is key to assess and realise the appropriate type of motivation different people may need.

Evalue Effectiveness

Not all methods of operation are effective! Waiting until the end of the process or project to evaluate the effectiveness can severely hamper the potential of you as an individual or your team as a whole. Step aside and assess the plan and the participating team members. Evaluate the effectiveness of each component, good and bad, in relation to the goal and mission.

In Summary

Accountability by all within the business will accelerate the change in culture you need to achieve your goals. There will be a powerful impact on the business from greater accountability, accelerating change in people and teams. With momentum and the support of more and more employees who now act proactively you can transform your entire organisation.

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