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Driving Accountability in Your Teams

One of the most common transformation issues I come across when assessing operational teams is how much of the analytic and project work leaders take on for themselves as opposed to having their teams own it. Often, this is born out of frustration and the overriding thought that it is easier to do it themselves than have to train their teams. While I appreciate the ownership of the individual, it creates a cultural and skills divide in the organization. It also presents a barrier to getting new work done, not by intent but by the fact that one person is taking

on too much. Does this sound familiar?

Wait? I thought we were talking about accountability... We are, but in this scenario, you create a culture of accountability without a few items being in place.

1. Letting individuals know they are accountable.

2. Setting clear delivery dates and expectations.

3. Ensuring they have the right training and resources to be successful.

4. Creating a meeting framework that forces transparency of both success and failure.

5. Giving clear feedback on performance in an immediate and public forum.

I also want to be clear that having a culture of accountability is not about people being willing to say “It was my fault”. That is nice and we all appreciate having leaders who are willing to take the blame on challenges, but that does not change performance, this only gives it an easy scapegoat. When I am talking about a culture of accountability, I mean that when tasks, projects, objectives are handed out to the teams, the owners of those tasks know what they are expected to do.

They have clear deadlines and objectives that are shared with the team as well as a meeting and communication framework designed to ensure movement towards accomplishing the overall goal.

Let me give you just one simple example:

Meeting Agenda Outcomes: Standing meeting agendas should start with the previously agreed to actions and updates delivered by the person accountable. You can’t move forward if you are not progressing with your commitments. If team members know they are expected to present out movement, barriers and outcomes every meeting, then they will begin to ensure that the work is done. This also has the added benefit of creating realistic action plans and outcomes over time as once they understand they are accountable to others, they will be more

thoughtful of their commitments.

It is also important that feedback is given and accepted in a public venue. This can be controversial, and I understand that. Many leaders like to give and receive feedback in private, but you lose the impact on the team, which is what creates culture. If you want to change a culture and create high performing teams, then having a forum of direct honest feedback is critical. I like to use the term “teachable moments” and they can include both positive and negative feedback. You don’t have to be disrespectful or demeaning but you can be direct and set the level of expectation along with an opportunity for the person to self-correct or get the additional help they need to complete the task. I once heard the term “I am prepared to be demanding but not demeaning to my players” from a very famous college football coach and it has stuck with me.

We offer additional detail and depth - which includes more examples, templates and ideas to help you create and drive a culture of accountability - in the paid content and advisory options of our Resource Hub. If further assistance is required, or if you prefer a more custom solution, we would be happy to set up time to discuss a consulting engagement to help you and your leaders through the journey.


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