I got asked this very question in a coaching conversation last week, by a CEO of a fast-growth technology company on the East Coast. He was troubled by the observation that some of his colleagues in the business seem to be very inconsistent with their ability to do what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it. It’s a big challenge to companies all over the world, and it’s a big challenge to organizations of any kind, not just business enterprises. So, what are some of the keys to organizations being able to have a large number of their team accountable on a consistent basis? Here are some thoughts on that very topic.
Fostering “Ownership Mentality” And “Accountability” In Your Culture
If you want to be taken seriously you have to ensure that there are positive and negative consequences for decisions and behavior in an organization. The golden rule needs to be that every member of the team does what they should to ensure the long-term health of the team, your clients, and every colleague on the team. When people get in the habit of doing what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it, the people around them begin to trust. Trust leads to a willingness to rely upon the right things happening when situations come along. This is important because without your entire team owning responsibilities at the individual, department, and organizational levels, it will become very difficult for anyone to trust that the right things will happen to take care of prospects as they become customers. Customers choose to buy products and services from companies who own up to mistakes, fix problems immediately, and avoid the temptation to make excuses or point fingers. You want that for your organization because when everybody consistently owns positive results, you accelerate your progress to great success.
Connect Your Team To The Larger Picture
Great leaders realize that they need to provide vision and guidance so that the team will know where we’re headed, and more importantly, why we’re headed that way. Connect your teammates to the direction and to the benefits of achieving what we’re setting out to achieve. With context and inclusion, your associates will participate in the journey and they’ll voluntarily buy into the direction and the purpose. When you engage in dialog about problems and opportunities, be open and transparent with everyone. Anticipate questions and answer them openly, without defensiveness. Encourage everyone on the team to engage in an open and candid discussion about what we’re trying to accomplish so that they know their voice registered and was heard, and that their input was factored in. That will lead toward much greater commitment from your team.
No Sacred Cows, Everyone Is Held Accountable Equally
Hold everyone accountable for effort and results. Make sure that all behavior is above the line, not below the line. Above the line behavior is that which leads to the long-term goodwill and sustainable health of the organization. Behavior which is below the line, is unreliable, makes excuses, resists positive change, and leads to broken promises and missed expectations. When we break our plan and don’t follow up, we are not doing what we said we would do which can contribute to misunderstandings, chaos, and confusion. When you’re consistent in holding everyone accountable fairly and equally, you motivate the entire team to accept accountability and to embrace it, as a shared value. Realize that your top performers will watch closely to ensure that you hold all team members accountable, and do it fairly. You see, top performers don’t want to overachieve just so that someone else can take it easy and coast along with less than maximum effort. Respect that everyone needs to match the effort and sacrifices necessary to achieve results with accountability.
Build Accountability Into Your Culture As You Celebrate Success Along The Way
Don’t forget about the importance of measuring and reporting your progress to your team as you begin to pursue those core objectives and goals. Just like an automobile has a dashboard to help the driver to make good decisions while driving, your team will need regular updates of how they’re performing against key metrics to make sure that they’re crystal clear about where we’re going and how the journey is progressing. Expect adjustments along the path, so that you can arrive at your dream destination on time. Embrace positivity and the aggressive pursuit of positive change that demonstrates your organization’s values and principles. Celebrate the work of the team as they sacrifice and toil toward the greater cause. By celebrating the behaviors that drive success you make it much more likely that those behaviors will become increasingly present in day to day operations. Nothing builds culture like celebrating a worthy victory, especially if it was a hard-fought victory!
Accountability is challenging for many of us as leaders. Get outside of your normal comfort zone and get busy leading your team to a place that they’ve never been able to go before. You can do it. It all starts with you, your leadership, and your shining example. Your team will thank you for it in the long run….
Talk To An Experienced Coach
Michael is an executive development coach and a business advisor who helps fast-growth companies all over the United States to become the best leadership team they can be. Accountability is often a challenge for these leadership teams until they begin to master the disciplines of helping every member of the team to develop their sense of ownership mentality and their willingness to be held highly accountable. If you’d like a conversation with no cost or obligation with Michael or one of his coaches about accountability in your organization, reach out to us at 651-335-4505 or at 520-732-2266, we’d love to speak with you!