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Seven Ways To Accelerate Accountability

Right now, most business owners / leaders are suffering from a lack of accountability. How much is a lack of accountability costing your business right now? Scary number isn’t it?

Seven Ways To Accelerate AccountabilitySeven ways to accelerate accountability

  1. Stop trying to take responsibility for other people

    You are only responsible for yourself.

    • We are all 100% responsible for our intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions
    • We are not responsible for anyone else’s intentions, feelings, thoughts or actions
    • What other people do or don’t do is none of your business. Get over it
    • The great paradox is that the more you take full responsibility for yourself, the more others will follow your example
  2. Destroy job descriptions and create role clarity statements

    Most job descriptions are a list of tasks. Often ‘and anything else as directed’ appears in the fine print. Very rarely is there anything concrete about relationships, which are key to accountability. We don’t let down people we have great relationships with.

    Create role clarity statements with people not for them.

    Create an operating structure based on a supplier-customer chain as a big picture, then put roles for people into the structure, and then matched people to roles. Do this exercise yourself. You will find a lot of roles should be made redundant, a lot of people would be better in a different role, and that you are nowhere near as effective and efficient as you think you are.

    Involve your people in this exercise and you will revolutionise your business and likely the lives of many of your people. You will also see a great rise in people being engaged and accountable.

  3. Ensure you share your shared-view

    • Where you are (reality)
    • Where you're going (possibility)
    • Why you're going there (purpose)
    • How you will get there (strategy)
    • Who will do what and when (execution)
    • How you will know you are on track (milestones and lead measures)
    • How you will behave along the way (values)
  4. Stop appraising people, instead have appreciation and accountability conversations with them

    If you have an appraisal or performance review system get rid of it.

    Instead, focus on what’s worth celebrating and what could be better conversations with people informally as a part of every day work. At least every 90 days formalise the conversations and help people to create a performance plan for themselves for the next 90 days around how they will keep doing what’s worth celebrating and correct what could be better.

    People do not want to be appraised or reviewed, they want to be appreciated and helped to be accountable. When conversations about performance are happening properly and are integral to every day work, performance reviews and appraisals become redundant and you will finally be able to bury them.

    The 'Double A' Technique

    Ask: “How are things going?”

    When you get a positive response:

    Ask: “How does that make you feel?”

    (be quiet and pay attention)

    Then say, Great, Brilliant or whatever is appropriate.

    Then ask: “Any other areas I can help you with?”

    (be quiet and pay attention)

    When you get a negative response

    Ask: “What happened?” (be quiet and pay attention)

    Then ask: “What do you need to do to get back on track?”

    (be quiet and pay attention)

    Then ask: “Is there anything I can do to help you?”

    (be quiet and pay attention)

    Finally, ask: “Anything else?”

    (be quiet and pay attention)

    The above conversation is a basic starting place. To inspire accountability leaders need to excel at all kinds of communication and conversation.

    "Is there any organisational practice more broken than performance management?" asks Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith in an article for Forbes recently. She goes on to say: "Everyone hates it - employees and managers alike, nobody does it well - it's a skill that seemingly fails to be acquired despite exhaustive training efforts, and it fails the test of construct validity - it doesn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. increase performance."

    "Traditional performance management programs have become organisation wallpaper. They exist in the background with little or no expectations for impact. Yet despite its poor popularity, the concept of performance (at an individual and organisational level) is critical to business success. It can’t just be ignored."

    A key is overcoming a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty.If you are struggling to have authentic, candid conversations with your employees, you are not alone. Don’t be embarrassed. Admit your shortcomings and get help today.

  5. Stop trying to manage people. Instead lead people and manage systems and processes

    People management is a hangover from the industrial revolution, the great dehumaniser, where we saw people as cogs in a giant machine. We all have a headache as result of this nonsense. People can’t be managed. We are, each one of us, a unique human being who needs to be treated as such. Lead people. Manage systems and processes.

    It won’t be long before you will have a clear head and a warmer heart. Productivity you have dreamed about will follow.

  6. Ensure there is not a mismatch between what science knows and your business does

    In Daniel Pink's book Drive - The surprising truth about what motivates us, he says we are motivated by 3 things:

    Autonomy - The urge to direct our own lives
    Mastery - The desire to get better and better at something that matters
    Purpose - The yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

    He also says “There is a mismatch between what science knows and business does.”

    What have you read lately in the fields of positive psychology, neuroscience, and biology, just to name three sciences? A lot of how we see and treat people in business is way out of step with what science is telling us.

    The evidence is overwhelming. Are you out of touch? Or are you in step?
  7. Understand your real reason for being in business and be accountable to that

    Profit is not a reason for being in business, profit is a result of being good at business. What’s your real reason for being in business? Don’t be embarrassed if answering this question is eluding you. It is a tough one to answer.


If we are honest we must admit that the way we’re working in most organisations isn’t working. We need maverick thinking followed by a radical transformation of the way we work.

The cost of a lack of accountability in terms of time, energy and money is significant for most businesses. Change what’s normal by adapting the insights above in your way and watch accountability levels go up as well as your business results.

Author Credits

Ian Berry is the author of Changing What's Normal. He is one of the world's leading authorities on change people can actually believe in and make happen, and change where everyone can win. Visit Ian’s website at: www.ianberry.biz
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