It’s goal-setting time, and many of my clients are still working on finalizing their goals for the year.  As I mentioned last week, many of these goals are tied to financial goals for the organization.  (And I agree that these are critical).  However I am featuring some non-traditional ideas for goal-setting in my blog this month.  Several of my clients are struggling with the topic of accountability in their organization.  As such, I have a couple of clients that have specific goals creating a culture of accountability this year.

As I am working with them, I have found a few keys to developing accountability.  Note that this is very similar to my blog last week on resilience.  But nevertheless, I believe it’s worthwhile for business leaders to consider these ideas.  There are three keys to developing a culture of accountability.

  1. Develop clarity around expectations
  2. Model accountability from the top-down
  3. Create a mechanism for ensuring accountability

Develop clarity around expectations

Clarity should be a word every business leader embraces and embodies.  Clarity of expectations can be very difficult, especially in entrepreneurial organizations that re-invent themselves every few months (or days).  I recommend focusing on these key steps to establish clarity.

Define your company values

I believe values are more important than vision or mission statements.  Simply put, we usually have a fairly good idea of our vision (where we want to be) and our mission (what we do).  But our values get to the heart of “why” we do what we do.  I describe values as the “guardrails” of our business.  They help us stay on track.  If a difficult decision comes up, we should be able to use our values to keep us on the right path.

Develop measures that drive performance

We often preach the concept of key performance indicators (KPIs).  KPIs are critical for companies that want to stay focused on what is most important.  Every organization should be able to develop 6-10 key measures that will tell you whether you are on track, without looking at any other numbers.  Here are some sample KPIs:

  • New prospects in pipeline
  • Employee retention
  • Number of proposals given
  • Customer satisfaction %
  • Jobs completed on-time

If you develop a list of key measures, this tells your team members what is most important and gives them something to be held accountable to.

Create SMART goals

Each team and each individual should have goals that support the long-term goals (vision) of the organization.  These goals should be SMART.  We use this acronym to indicate they should be Specific, Measurable, Aligned with values, Realistic and Time-bound.

If each team has a set of goals, and each team member has a set of goals to support the team goals.  You are well on your way to creating clarity around expectations.  And this is the first key to developing a culture of accountability in your organization.

Model Accountability From the Top-Down

It does no good to talk about accountability if you do not model it from the top-down.  For this to work, the leaders of your organization (from the President/CEO desk to each of the front-line managers, must support the idea of promoting accountability at every level.

Oz Principle victor victim

I love the “OZ Principle” model for this.  At FocalPoint, we teach the Oz Principle concepts in teaching mindset to our business clients.  A big part of mindest is maintaining a positive attitude.  We talk about the idea of being a victor or a victim.  A victor maintains an attitude “above the line”, while a victim spends their life “below the line” (see picture).

In the book, authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman define what “above the line” accountability looks like.  The steps to accountability, as they define it, are:

  • See It
  • Own It
  • Solve It
  • Do It

If you model this mindset from the top-down, you will inherently promote accountability throughout your organization.

Create a mechanism for ensuring accountability

Many leaders want accountability in their organization, but don’t want to take the difficult steps of creating a mechanism for ensuring it.  An effective mechanism leverages the concepts discussed above, and combine them with practical procedures and tools for making sure the team members are doing what is expected of them.

For accountability, I personally like the concepts laid out in the book “Traction”, by Gino Wickman.  This book is the foundation for the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).  I utilize these concepts with my clients that want to build a formal accountability mechanism.

The cornerstone of this model is the weekly accountability meetings, which they call L10 Meetings.  I like to call these “Stay Focused Meetings” because that’s what they are all about.  In so doing, you are providing a mechanism for team members to stay focused on their tasks and the goals of the organization.

The core elements of this meeting are:

  • Review Dashboard (KPIs)
  • Identify progress on goals
  • Track to-dos of each team member
  • Discuss and resolve open issues

Consequently, with this process in place, team members stay focused on their individual tasks, and accountability is built into the process.  (There’s much more to Traction/EOS than can be discussed here, but contact me if interested in learning more).

Want Accountability, Get Started Today

I help my clients develop an accountability model that will work in their organization.  As you can see, I do not believe in a “one size fits all” model.  If you’d like to learn more, send me an email and we can discuss what accountability might look like in your organization.  Or, schedule a meeting with me via my calendar.