How often have you been in a work environment that feels like you’re running full out on a treadmill, where everybody — from the front lines to the CEO — works hard, but the view never seems to change? Super frustrating, right? Everyone is sweating, yet it feels like there’s hardly any meaningful progress being made in the business.
How many times have you been at an annual planning session and struggled to recall the goals and metrics you set for the year?
Or my personal favorite: When was the last time your organization fell short on a major project or missed a key deadline and when you went to investigate why, somehow nobody was accountable?
Individually, it’s incredibly easy to write any of these examples off as “part of doing business.” It makes sense, even.
It makes sense that sometimes communication breaks down and that sometimes we lose track of progress. It makes sense that sometimes it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly who is accountable for things.
After all, the world of business can often feel erratic and unpredictable.
The problem is, these conditions negatively impact your organization, slow growth, and accelerate burnout. This is why as leaders, we must step back and consider the root cause of why these things happen.
As a business and leadership growth coach for the past 16 years, I’ve found that even the largest, most sophisticated, professionally-led businesses struggle with one common denominator underpinning all of these frustrating conditions: accountability.
This is why I decided to write Creating a Culture of Accountability. In it, I share the things I’ve learned after years of coaching business leaders around the world who represent a wide variety of industries.
Depending on industry, location, and who you ask, a business can spend as much as 70% of operating expenses on people – employee compensation and benefits. Whatever the percentage for your particular business, the implications of increasing the return on your people expenses are quite compelling. Accountability is the way.
So what exactly is accountability?
Accountability boils down to ownership — ownership of understanding, communication, and risk management. It’s not necessarily the same as doing the work, however. An accountable person will be the first to point out when something is forecast to be off track, or whether they’ve made a mistake, for example. They’ll inform you of the possible risks and obstacles that lie ahead and they speak up to be heard. An accountable employee owns their outcomes.
One fascinating aspect of accountability is its self-propagating nature. Leaders who foster a culture of accountability don’t just improve the performance of their own employees, they attract more high performers from the competition — sometimes even from other industries. It’s a self-sustaining positive feedback loop because high performers love the rigor of a high accountability culture!
The inverse is also true. Increasing accountability weeds out people who don’t belong in your organization. These folks are the low performers who hide in the shadows, avoid work, fear challenge and change, shunt responsibilities to others, lack consistency, and place their own interests ahead of their team and the company. They avoid high accountability environments like the plague!
A culture of accountability enables effective execution, retains high performers, repels low performers and will improve the sense of collaboration, winning and fun in your business. This cycle drives significantly higher employee return on investment (ROI), giving you more flexibility to scale and attain your most ambitious aspirations. You and your team will be off the frustrating treadmill and advancing the business with relative ease!
The need to improve accountability in almost every organization is clear. I wrote Creating a Culture of Accountability to show you how.