Accountability is an idea that is discussed in most organizations, but it is also one of the least implemented.

Why is that?

I believe there are a few reasons:

First, no one likes being held accountable. The thinking often goes something like this – “If I hold YOU accountable, you’ll also be able to hold ME accountable.” Therefore, most people agree to the need for accountability but often neglect following through for fear of it affecting them directly.

Second, holding others accountable can lead to conflict. Even if it is healthy for the person or team, conflict isn’t fun to initiate. Very few people are willing to have difficult conversations, therefore, accountability is neglected. 

Third, it is often unclear what to hold people accountable to do or achieve. We may want a specific end result, but we don’t invest the time to define specific tasks or milestones to achieve the results. Therefore, accountability becomes difficult to manage.

So, how can you increase your organization’s accountability success? Consider the following four action steps:

1 – Make it a priority.

Don’t simply give lip service to accountability. Commit to it. As a leader, you are responsible for making this a priority and keeping it in front of your team. If YOU don’t make it a priority, it won’t happen. Period.

2 – Be consistent.

If you speak about accountability but do not consistently enforce it, your team will be confused, frustrated, or ignore the effort altogether. Consistency is a vital characteristic of high-quality leadership. It is also critical for accountability to occur.

3 – Create a system.

In order for consistent accountability to happen well, systematize it. Build it into your team’s operational rhythm. This can happen in the form of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, and annual meetings. It can happen in one-on-one meetings, team meetings, or annual reports. If accountability matters, make it an integral part of the life of your organization.

4 – Be creative.

Accountability can be done in creative ways that make it easier to enforce. Reports don’t have to be boring. Reviews don’t have to be painful. Create unique presentations. Give updates through video. Take the pressure off by making accountability check-ins more enjoyable with a fresh format. Schedule meetings with food, team building activities, or go off-site. You can even turn updates into a game that allows competition to motivate your people. Reward and celebrate success. There are many ways to be creative. If you struggle with creativity, ask your team for ideas that they could get behind and then experiment. See what sticks and makes the greatest impact.

If you want your team or organization to go further faster, accountability cannot be neglected. It’s been said that “what gets measured gets done” and “what gets rewarded gets repeated.” Implement the above four action items and watch the needle move toward greater success.

Until next time…make today GREAT!

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