Building organization-wide accountability is a key element to making your business successful and sustainable over a long period of time. Not surprisingly, all high-performing organizations are moving toward more empowerment, enlightenment — and building their own culture of accountability.
So what is accountability?
To some, it’s something you make people do, as in “making people accountable.” However, as long as you think accountability can be purchased, mandated, or motivated, you’re trapped in trying to create or “force” high accountability — in a low-accountability culture – a recipe for disaster that no one will buy into.
Let’s consider what accountability is, and how you can build an organizational culture that encourages it.
By definition, accountability is being answerable or responsible for something. Accountability opens the door to ownership – not necessarily financial ownership — but certainly emotional ownership, where a person acknowledges they’re responsible for themselves, and also some role or aspect of your organization.
Accountability is not something you “make” people do. It has to be chosen, accepted, or agreed upon by each person within your organization. People must learn to internalize and “buy into” being accountable and responsible. For many, this is a new, unfamiliar, and sometimes, uncomfortable way to work. But as quickly as organizations change these days, the most important and fundamental cornerstone of leadership is learning individual purpose and the meaning that comes from accepting responsibility and learning to be accountable.
To learn to be accountable means coming to grips with an element of “discipline.” Hold on there, I can hear your concerns. Discipline is not a “bad” word. Accountability is the opposite of permissiveness. Holding people accountable is really about the distribution of power and choice. When you have more choice, you can learn to become more responsible. When you become more responsible, you can enjoy more freedom. When you are more accountable, you understand your purpose and role within the organization, and are committed to getting things done – executing the plan – and making things happen.
So, how do you ensure that accountability is a top priority in the culture of your organization?
Only organizations that can clearly identify, articulate, and execute their strategic goals are well-positioned to build organization-wide accountability.
We use a six-step framework to build accountability, by having people answer the following questions:
1. Strategic Vision (What makes us different? What can we be best at? What do we have passion for?)
2. Strategic Change Management (How will we guide our organization to reach our vision)
3. Operational Alignment (How can we allocate resources to RUN the business and CHANGE the business?)
4. Teamwork-Driven Execution (How can we work together – to get the most important things done?)
5. Continuous Improvement (How can we capture and work on opportunities for improvement?)
6. Organizational Development (What capabilities do we need to develop to meet our future?)
Building a culture of accountability requires not only a systematic method based on proven best-practices, it requires tools that make the framework practical to use and implement on a daily, weekly, monthly quarterly and annual basis.
In addition, it takes a trusted advisor (a trained business coach) to hold you and your organization accountable, and to help make these cultural changes “stick” – to make them last. In the end, it takes an organization that is ready, committed, and able to accept accountability, and to benefit from the freedom that comes with an accountable culture.
Accountability and positive organizational change come through having a new set of conversations. Want to start having these conversations in your organization? Contact us at Six Disciplines.