Accountability & Responsibility Part II

In part one of our series on Accountability and Responsibility we defined accountability, examined how we got to the "post-trust era", and discussed the 100% / 0 Rule. Today we'll be looking at the accountability cycle and the accompanying elements that must be in place to implement effective measures to increase accountability and responsibility.

Here are a few key things that must be in place for the accountability cycle to be effective:

  • The organization as a whole must understand and commit to accountability.
  • Accountability must start at the top and flow through the organization.
  • Areas which have a lack of accountability must be addressed.
  • Responsibility, authority, and employee engagement are closely tied to accountability.

Accountability is a delicate balance of control, delegation, trust, and authority. In order to make people accountable, you must increase their authority, reduce the controls on them, delegate to them, trust them to do the job, and support them and give them the tools necessary to complete their task. After the job is done, they will be held accountable for the results.

The building blocks of accountability are as follows:

  1. Transparency: All processes in an organization must be as transparent as possible. Big questions, like how executive bonuses and raises are determined, have recently received a lot of attention. the basic process must be shared, and specific numbers should be made public. Encourage your employees to ask questions and give them honest answers. Wouldn't you expect the same?
  2. Honesty: Demand honesty from all employees at all levels. Everyone should be accountable to someone. Ensure that employees have access to the information that they need to make decisions based on real-time information.
  3. Credibility: Ensure employees are in a position where they can have credibility. Don't, for example, move a person from VP of production to VP of sales when they have no sales experience. Your staff (managers, leaders, and executives in particular) needs credibility to be accountable. They can build their credibility by sharing past, relevant experiences with staff, or do so yourself on the company website through a memo or in a newsletter.
  4. Integrity: Integrity means following your values and being accountable day in and day out. It means acting consistently, so that people can rely on you, in good situations and in tough spots. Give your employees the support they need to be reliable in their values.
  5. Trust: Employees must trust each other to make honest decisions, to do good work, to generally act for the good of the company, and to be accountable for their decisions. Members of a company must also trust each other to ask questions and to test their accountability and reliability.

Once you've built a strong foundation for accountability and responsibility with the tools above you'll be ready to set goals and expectations, so stay tuned for the nest part of our series on accountability and responsibility.