Five Ways to Win at Accountability

Posted by johngies
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia modified by JRG

“I am so frustrated, Steve just won’t do what I asked him to do. He is always late and I don’t know what to do”. This is what one of my clients recently shared. Actually, most clients share some version of this frustration, they feel their team is not being ACCOUNTABLE.

You Can watch the video here

What is accountable? Common expectations of the term means there is someone to blame if things go wrong. I’d like to suggest it is as simple as keeping our word to ourselves, our colleagues, and our roles. It is really about making and keeping commitments.

What I have learned is that there are several things that must be in place for accountability or ownership to be present.

The first is clarity of expectations. Is everyone clear on what is expected and when? You would be surprised at how often we are not clear. Ivan used to always promise a result by the close of business on Friday. That sounds specific, doesn’t it? Let’s dig deeper.

  • Is that East coast or West coast time?
  • Is it 5:00 PM or is it when Ivan stops working?

For me, close of business is 5:00 PM MST… for Ivan it was midnight PST. See the problem?

Next, does the employee have the capability to achieve the goal. You may think they do but do they feel they can? One of the biggest de-motivators is feeling like you can’t do the job. Ask yourself and them:

  • Have they performed a task like this before?
  • How do they plan to approach the task?
  • Are there resources they need or obstacles in the way?

Have you all agreed on what the measurement of success will be? Are you really measuring the right things? I can remember a sales team where the only measurement was $2.5 Million in new revenue per sales rep, per year. This sales team had a 76% annual turnover in the two years I was with them primarily because they were measuring the wrong things. They could have been measuring the activity that leads to $2.5 Million in sales.  Number of calls, number of presentations, number of proposals, etc. You really can’t control your results you can only control the activity you put  in , in pursuit of your results.

Continuous feedback. We’ve all heard practice makes perfect. That is Bull S^%$. Deliberate practice makes perfect. Deliberate practice is executing the activity and then learning and adjusting the activity. It’s like a baby learning to walk. They stumble, they fall, they crawl they take a few steps, and then they are walking. If they just practiced stumbling over and over again, they would never have made it upright. They were getting constant feedback from parent, and from the activity to move themselves forward. What makes you think that as an owner or manager that you don’t need to give your team feedback?

And then there are consequences. When the job is well done, everyone can move forward. Sometimes it leads to bonuses and promotions. If the job is not well done… Well, there can be negative consequences ranging from write ups to demotions to being given the opportunity to find a job that better suits one’s temperament and capabilities. There you have it. Five steps you can take to help your team be accountable and to get stuff done.  If you would like to learn more about how you can build, grow, and scale your business, check out the resources at

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