Put Accountability To Work In Your Organization

Is accountability elusive in your organization? If you're like most leaders, you regularly deal with work force issues that get in the way of your organization's success. Here you have all this talent at your fingertips, yet goals are not being met and your business isn't nearly as successful as you know it could be. It's frustrating!

Accountability begins with engagement: a heightened emotional connection to your company that influences your employees to exert greater effort.

According to a recent Gallup study, only 29 percent of employees are engaged in their jobs. Others are currently looking for work, willing to switch jobs if the opportunity presents itself or are feeling depressed or overwhelmed and, as a result, are underperforming.

Disengagement costs between 243 to 270 billion dollars a year from low productivity. Can anyone afford this right now?

So what is the upside? Engaged employees perform up to 28 percent better and are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization. Eighty-four percent believe they can positively impact the organization's quality and 72 percent want to optimize service delivery.

One study by Serota Consulting showed that share prices of organizations with engaged employees raised an average of 16 percent. The industry average is a mere 6 percent!

With obligations to the success of your organization, your shareholders and your customers, in today's economy, it's in your best interest to improve engagement and with it accountability.

The old management-centered, top-down approach breeds lack of accountability and creativity, creates resentment and offers poor results. Don't make the same mistake your competition will: trying to make improvements by putting the spotlight on poor performance.

Instead, put the spotlight on success.

Inoculate your organization

Be a different type of leader. Accountability doesn't have to be a heavy load, like pushing a rock uphill. With the right ingredients, you can create an organizational culture that breeds responsibility, ownership and accountability.

The key to your leadership success lies in creating a "learning" environment, a new kind of business architecture in which employees can learn, solve problems, challenge one another's perspectives and go beyond their present knowledge, skills and attitudes.

A learning environment promotes honesty, direct communication, safety to speak one's opinion without negative consequences and the ability to recreate ideas and solutions in one's own context.

The environment emboldens employees to play with new skills and test new attitudes in a "safe" setting with colleagues.

Using a proven performance coaching framework, you, too, can lead and motivate individuals and teams to work together to the highest levels of performance.

  • Performance. Define "what 'good' looks like." Instead of focusing on what's lacking in performance, set the bar for success. Gather you team together and collectively identify what "good" looks like in any area that is lacking in accountability.
  • Efficacy. Find out what's getting in the way of achieving the level of performance you want. What resources are needed: time, energy, money, training, skill, motivation? Develop a plan to fill those gaps. Develop SMART goals: strategic, measurable, actionable, result oriented and timely.
  • Ownership. Talk about ownership, what it means and how to measure success. Encourage self-evaluation and team evaluation.
  • Possibilities. Create a vision together. What could happen if "what 'good' looks like" were implemented? What would be the impact on each employee, the team, the organization, your customers, your market share and your shareholders?
  • Linkage. Discuss how each individual's work is linked to the result you're trying to create. Expand each employee's vision.
  • Evidence. Effective leaders measure peak performance from their team members. What scorecard will you use? Plan with the team how to handle lack of accountability and how to motivate each other. How will you celebrate when goals are met?
The first letters of each step spells P.E.O.P.L.E. You don't have to achieve great results by yourself. What you achieve together can be greater than what you might have imagined and all of you will have fun in the process.

Develop engaged individuals

How do you inspire individuals to become engaged employees? First, get to know your team members. Studies show that the most engaged employees have a good relationship with their manager.

Then, open the doors to team and organizational communication. Many organizations have no trouble communicating with employees from the top down, but struggle to develop an atmosphere in which communication can occur from the bottom up.

Build trust. As a leader you build trust by offering a consistent and positive pattern of behavior, including a willingness to listen and share information, trust others, promote honest communication, show fair behavior and fulfill promises. As you build your own credibility, you build trust in your team and your organization.

It's also important to offer career advancement opportunities and to give employees the tools they need to succeed. Use DISc or Myers-Briggs to learn more about each other. A CPI 260 might show new leaders how they would be perceived by their team and what strengths to leverage. A TKI conflict resolution assessment might help staff members improve communication.

You need to keep your staff informed and provide feedback. Employees should understand how their duties and responsibilities affect the organization's bottom line, and should be made to feel a part of the organization's success.

Gain healthy results

There's clear and mounting evidence that high levels of employee engagement correlate to individual, group and corporate performance in areas such as retention, turnover, productivity, customer service and loyalty (Conference Board Study of Employee Engagement).

Employees who are involved and passionate about the organization and their jobs pass their passion and loyalty on to fellow employees, customers and shareholders. To that end, creating a culture that fosters employee engagement not only has an impact on your company, but also has a profound and lasting impact on the world around it.


Debora J. McLaughlin, a certified Executive Coach, is CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group. She works with leaders, teams and organizations to navigate organiza...

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