Finding & Fixing Accountability Leaks

High-performance organizations and teams depend on accountability. It’s the fuel that great teams run on, and a lack of true accountability is almost always the reason why some organizations underperform.

Here’s a definition of accountability we can probably all agree on:

Accountability = The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for performance, and to report results in a transparent manner. 

Accountability leaks are those areas in an organization where accountability is missing… where no one really owns the outcomes. These leaks create serious risks for teams and businesses. Think of an area where your team has consistently underperformed. There’s a very high probability you’ll find an accountability leak right there. Here are five great ways to identify and fix accountability leaks:

  1. Start with What’s Important. Every organization, team or department has its own key measure of success. It could be sales, retention, revenue, feedback, EBITDA, customer service measures, recruiting, billed hours, clicks, etc. Make sure everyone knows what’s being measured in their area of responsibility.
  2. Make Results Public. Accountability leaks disappear with transparency. Leverage dashboards, flash reports, leaderboards, win sheets, etc. Everyone should know what measure they are responsible for and exactly what the results are.
  3. Make Sure Leadership is Accountable to Performance. There’s only one real measure of leadership and management effectiveness; are the people on their teams improving over time? You might be surprised to learn that the executives and leaders in many companies are the accountability leaks. In a high-performance organization, accountability starts with the leaders.
  4. Leverage Recognition as Your Multiplier. Recognition of expected and exceptional performance is a key to sustaining accountability. Accountability doesn’t just mean drawing attention to what’s not working… it means making absolutely sure everyone knows where excellent results are coming from.
  5. Be on the Lookout for “Teflon” People in Your Organization. These are the people that seem to operate without any accountability or ownership. They can be found anywhere on your organizational chart, and they make it a practice to never have any poor outcome stick to them. Identify these people and make sure they know exactly what results they own.

Those are the top five ways to find and fix accountability leaks in your organization. Remember, wherever you have consistently poor results you probably have obvious accountability leaks. Poor results and disappointing outcomes are symptoms of a lack of ownership.

Accountability in the workplace is to be cultivated, not enforced. Finding and fixing accountability leaks in your organization is the key to sustaining a high-performance culture.


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