Accountability – key to achieving results?

It is remarkable how often managers indicate the lack of accountability and ownership as their greatest challenge with their people. It is often blamed on people not having pride in their work or avoiding taking responsibility for their roles, responsibilities, and outputs in their positions.  When taking a deeper look into the challenge it often becomes clear that a big part of the cause of this problem can be found in managers who are struggling to keep their people accountable. This often starts where no clear expectations of outputs to deliver were discussed and agreed upon.

A recent study indicated that two thirds of managers who were rated in a 360-degree assessment, were not holding their people sufficiently accountable. This study also indicated a strong relationship between managers holding their people appropriately accountable, and the achievement of their objectives. This means that a lack of people taking proper accountability is detrimental to a company, especially if it persists over time.

Solving the accountability crisis 

Holding people accountable for performance should not be regarded as punitive. It all starts, as mentioned above, by managers being clear about expectations and employees accepting and buying-in on the performance expected. It should also be ensured that employees are indeed able to deliver, which may involve assessment to ascertain if the person’s abilities and attributes fits the position. The question also to be asked is how much time and effort has been invested in equipping and developing the person to execute what is expected in the position? How much follow up and evaluation of the person’s performance has been done?

A surprising factor we often find in our work is how many managers actually avoid tough conversations. The reasons vary between discomfort with confronting poor performance, fear to damage their likability, or a false belief that the person will correct their own mistakes without having to tell them and the person “should know by themselves” when they are not delivering the desired outputs.

Some pointers to consider when confronted by the lack of accountability:

  • Is there a possible blind-spot here where the person believes that his/her performance is acceptable when it actually is not? Have you made it clear enough what is expected?
  • How can you ensure a safe space for the person and create the right atmosphere to give constructive feedback?
  • Is there a way of delivering the message on poor performance so that the person experiences it as a developmental conversation?
  • What are the continuous poor performance costs to the company – whether directly or indirectly?
  • Do you have an accurate idea of the person’s capabilities and how much will it help you if you know that?
  • Do you have the necessary skills as a manager to ensure an accountability culture in your team?
  • How often do your people get feedback and input on how you evaluate their performance?

Camino Consulting believes in the power of people taking responsibility for results and focussing on outcomes and deliverables. In addressing matters like the taking of accountability, the first step is helping people become aware of their own stance when facing a situation where they could choose to exercise accountability.

One tool that we use to convey this, is the accountability ladder. Click here for a video that is immediately at your disposal to use in this regard.

If you are interested in growing your people on this, contact Camino Consulting for more details about our manager and supervisor development programmes.