Like many of the best things in life, trust really is free. Doing without trust in your organization, however, will cost your business dearly. Capitalizing on your team’s energy and motivation so that they are productive, requires that they collaborate freely, and for that, people need to trust each other. One of the fundamental pillars of trust is accountability.
How can you boost accountability? Here are 3 things to keep in mind:
1) Start at the top – The simplest way to describe accountability is “Doing what you say you’re going to do”. That has to start with the leaders. If the people running the organization don’t follow through on what they say they’ll do, why should you expect anyone else to do it?
2) Stop the blame game – Many people have what is referred to as an external locus of control. When things don’t go well, they say things like, “We’re struggling because the economy is bad”, or “We’re having a hard time because competition has increased”, or “It’s difficult because our customers just aren’t buying”. Notice how all of those statements are focused on what others are doing. When things don’t go well, someone with an internal locus of control might say things like, “We’re struggling because when the economy went downhill we didn’t respond fast enough”; or “We’re struggling with competition because we aren’t efficient enough to be competitive”; or “Our customers aren’t buying because we don’t have a focused, cohesive marketing plan”. Notice how all of those statements are focused on what we are doing. Take responsibility for your own actions and focus on what you’re going to do.
3) Measure processes, not just outcomes – All organizations like to measure outcomes: sales, net profit, etc. These things are certainly important. However, the key to sustained excellence is repeating the correct processes over and over again. Are you doing the right things? Are you measuring what is being done, rather than simple outcomes? For example, a salesperson could do everything right and still not get the sale. If you only measure outcomes, it looks as though they’ve failed. However, if that salesperson does everything right every time, the sales will eventually be there. Outcomes are important – but they aren’t the only thing you need to keep track of.
Which of these 3 things resonate with you? Nearly every organization has some work to do to improve accountability – what can you do?