Last week I shared what it looks like when there’s not a culture of accountability and the impact it has on organisations.
So, how DO you create a culture of accountability.
It’s almost impossible to create a culture of accountability without first establishing trust, creating clarity and getting buy in.
Imagine it like a house, you need strong foundations (trust, clarity, buy in) in order for accountability to hold.
Yes, you can try to hold someone accountable without first establishing these things, but it’s going to be less effective.
Let me explain why.
I shared my favourite definition of accountability that mentioned accountability is not about taking blame and it’s not about a confession.
Teams with vulnerability based trust are able to say things like, “I don’t know”, “I need help”, “I made a mistake”, “I’m sorry”.
How likely are you to say any of those things if you never see your leader, or anyone else doing it?
So, to be able to hold someone accountable, they need to know that there is a level of trust where it’s safe for them to say those things, and also know that you’re not personally attacking or out to get them.
It’s also very hard to hold someone accountable if you haven’t created clarity and got buy in, because if someone doesn’t know what’s expected of them, or if they haven’t agreed to it, it’s very hard to then hold them accountable to it.
So, let’s assume you’ve created a safe environment where people trust each other, and you’ve created clarity and achieved buy in, where people know, and have agreed to an expectation or standard.
NOW you’re in the best position to have an accountability conversation.
In order to create a culture of accountability, these 4 things need to happen consistently:
- Clear Expectations – Similar to clarity that we discussed above, this is about being crystal clear on what you expect and what outcomes you’re going for, and the other person being on board. How can you hold someone accountable to something they didn’t know they had to do?
- Clear Capability – Ensuring everyone has access to the right training and right equipment to do their job adequately. It’s asking yourself, “does my team have all the things they need to meet the expectations I’ve set for them”. If the answer is no, it’s hard to hold them accountable if they can’t actually do what you’re asking of them.
- Clear Measurement – Simply put, what gets measured gets done. If someone doesn’t know how they’re measured against the expectations you’ve set, how can they know if they’re achieving them or not? This is where having rock solid KPI’s comes in (my recommendation is for team members to have an opportunity to weigh in on the development of their KPI’s – hello clarity and buy in). At any point in time, a team member should be able to check how they are tracking against any given KPI so they know if they need to make any adjustments or ask for help. As well as creating more ownership for KPI’s, it means they’re more in control of their performance and are able to hold themselves more accountable to meeting expectations.
- Clear Feedback – Regular, timely and consistent feedback is crucial. I could probably write about 10 posts on feedback but here’s what I’ll say now. There are only 2 reasons we should EVER give someone feedback – you want them to continue to perform or behave in a certain way, or you want them to change something they’re doing. Unfortunately, too many people forget the first one. If you want to create a culture of accountability, clear feedback needs to happen consistently, for both positive and constructive feedback.
There you have it.
If these 4 things are consistently happening, you’re on the way to creating a culture of accountability.
The final part is to actually be having the conversations.
I know that sounds obvious, but it’s where a lot of managers fall down.
What you allow will continue, which means if someone is doing something that’s not to standard, you need to tell them, else it’s going to continue.
Join The Effective Manager Program if you want to learn how to have a great accountability conversation.
Accountability is hard, but here’s the light at the end of the tunnel – the more you do it, the less you have to do it.
And, if you’ve created a culture of accountability, I promise you, when you do have to have those conversations, they’ll be so much easier, and so much more effective.
So, what areas of accountability do you think you could improve on?